All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Rules Of Backyard Croquet by Sunni Overend

on February 19, 2018

The Rules Of Backyard Croquet
Sunni Overend
Harper Collins AUS
2018, 354p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Disgraced fashion prodigy Apple March has gone into hiding, concealing herself within the cashmere and silk folds of a formerly grand fashion boutique – the hanging of blouses and handling of difficult patrons now her only concern.

But when her sister Poppy needs a wedding dress, old passions are reignited … along with threats from her past.

As Apple finds herself falling for someone she shouldn’t, her quest to re-emerge becomes entangled in a time she wants forgotten, and life unravels as quickly as it began to mend.

From the cool heart of Melbourne, to Paris and New York, in an effervescent world of croquet, Campari and cocoon coats, can Apple prevail over demons past to become the woman she was born to be?

I really enjoyed The Dangers Of Truffle Hunting by Sunni Overend so I was pretty keen to try this – which is actually her first written manuscript and was self published several years ago but is now being traditionally published with the same publisher as Truffle Hunting.

Apple has been working in a fashion boutique in Melbourne for years – after scandal ended her study at a prestigious fashion college. Apple spends her days straightening up the store, dealing with the demanding owner, who is still living in the store’s couture past and gossiping with her work colleague. It isn’t until her sister Poppy gets engaged and begs Apple to make her a wedding dress that she realises she can’t keep hiding who she is anymore. She’s buried the creative part of herself so far down after humiliation and horrible accusations but it’s still there. She still has vision and she knows that she can create something incredibly fabulous for her sister.

Apple is so traumatised by what happened to her years ago, as an impressionable young woman. It’s a humiliation in two parts – an unwise affair where she didn’t know who she was dealing with and an accusation on her artistic integrity that led to her dismissal from the college where she was studying. She has been licking her wounds for years, immersing herself in being a sales assistant working for someone else in a job that basically means she’s in a holding pattern. Those in her life, particularly her sister Poppy are desperate to see her design again, to make things again. In terms of Poppy, she’s not afraid to push, trying to shake Apple from the comfort zone she’s surrounded herself in.

Apple’s unreliable car breaking down led to a meeting with heir to a jewellery empire Charlie and they cross paths again some time later while Apple is on a work trip. She is drawn into Charlie’s circle – his friends including Noah, who makes it clear he’s pretty interested, and also Charlie’s fiancee Heidi, a relationship that has existed since their teen years. Charlie is a delight, introducing Apple to such a different world – croquet games, charity events, fashion auctions. His younger sister Jill is good fun, although several in the circle are clear players with little respect for others. Apple ends up tangling with Noah, who is interesting but not as interesting as Charlie and the two of them don’t really have the connection that Apple and Charlie have had. It’s quite different reading a book where the characters with the most chemistry are clearly involved with other people for at least part of the book but at the same time I’ve never needed celibacy to believe in a pairing. Apple and Charlie are charming together – their interactions are quite sweet at first. Charlie is engaged to the quite frankly awful Heidi, who has no filter and tends to say whatever rude thing pops into her head, especially when she’s been drinking. It’s the sort of rich thing where they’ve known each other forever, their mothers were friends and they’ve been in a relationship since their teens. Both of them have changed and evolved though and neither seem particularly enamoured with each other anymore. Charlie’s whole family were lovely and I liked how Apple interacted with each of them.

I’m not a big fashion person – I like clothes but I’m not into expensive brands and couldn’t tell you Chanel from Gucci. But I enjoyed a lot of the fashion in this – the creativity of it, the struggle to make your mark in something. Apple has great vision and not only that, but when she decides that she’s stifled herself for long enough, she also has great determination. She still struggles with the feeling that her name is mud, bottling out of several opportunities because of old foes but when she finally decides to take her reputation back, she’s pretty damn amazing. She has grace and maturity as well, to apologise to someone she unwillingly and unknowingly wronged in the past and to move forward in the best way she can. I really enjoyed her friendship with Jackson, originally her colleague at the store, who also believes in her. Jackson is outrageous but awesome and she gives a lot of character to the book. A lot of this book is set in Melbourne and it’s almost like a love letter to the city – Melbourne prides itself on being fashion conscious, a bit hipster, with lots of black, good coffee and people not afraid to go to the opening of an envelope. In fact sub in polo for the croquet and you have just about every elite Melbourne summer event of recent years.

I found this book so light and fun and engaging but also… contrast, there was quite an amount of depth as well. It’s such a look at what’s important, being who you truly are inside and not letting things get in the way. Also I have such a soft spot for the ending. I love me a good reunion-type of scene!

Loads of wit and fun – definitely like this as much as Truffle Hunting. I think Sunni Overend is writing unique stories and I can’t wait to read more. Actually, I also really like the way the publisher has styled the titles to match and the cover designs are similar too. They’re very striking and will look great on a shelf….a whole row of them.


Book #33 of 2018



2 responses to “Review: The Rules Of Backyard Croquet by Sunni Overend

  1. Lily Malone says:

    You had me at the main character’s name of ‘Apple’ 🙂 I really must read some Sunni Overend. I think I’d enjoy her books. Great review, Bree.

  2. Lauren K says:

    I loved her first book, and i’m happy to hear her latest one is just as enjoyable!

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