All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Make Or Break by Catherine Bennetto

on August 22, 2018

Make Or Break 
Catherine Bennetto
Simon & Schuster
2018, 482p
Copy courtesy Simon & Schuster AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Jess, a 29-year-old Londoner with a Kate Beckett fringe and a tendency for dramatics, gets taken on a surprise trip by her long-term boyfriend, Pete, to attend her best friend’s last minute wedding in South Africa. Jess imagines sun, sand, wine and safaris. And returning to London with an ethically mined diamond on her left hand…

But this holiday isn’t set to be quite the fairy tale Jess has planned… and suddenly she finds her world tilting on its axis. And things are only set to get worse when Jess returns home…

Catherine Bennetto is back with her trademark wit and an equally hilarious cast of characters who will have you rooting for them from the first page.

This book was delightfully funny!

I haven’t read Catherine Bennetto before but this book has definitely put her onto my authors to watch list. We meet Jess, who is from London and has been with her boyfriend Pete for many years. When he surprises her with a trip to South Africa to attend her best friend’s wedding, Jess is certain that it means he’s going to propose. Instead she finds herself abandoned in Cape Town as Pete disappears off on an adventure and Jess spots her dad somewhere he’s definitely not meant to be, which puts her mind well into overdrive.

Jess is a fun character who is perhaps a bit prone to anxiety and overthinking, which I think is something we can all relate to. She isn’t interested in some of the more adventurous things that Pete wants to do, such as climbing Table Mountain and going hiking for days. She wanted a relaxing vacation with him with a question popped at the end. Instead of that bliss she finds herself alone and thinking about everything – what on earth is her dad up to and how will she find out? Are she and Pete even an item anymore? Enter bartender Jimmy, who lives in Cape Town with his brother and his brother’s partner, who takes it upon himself to show Jess the real Cape Town. Not just the touristy things, but the places that locals love to eat and hang out at.

Firstly I loved the setting of this novel. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book set in Cape Town specifically before. I’ve read books set in South Africa where Cape Town may be referenced or where they may pass through it but I don’t think it’s been a large chunk before. So I really enjoyed getting to see that and experiencing a lavish wedding there. Jimmy’s brother Ian and his partner Diego are quite well off so they live in a beautiful house with a stunning view but Jimmy also takes Jess on a tour of the more laid back and cheaper sections of Cape Town as well. They eat amazing food, drink cocktails and see the sights. It helps Jess (sort of) forget about the fact that Pete is off doing god knows what with god knows who and helps Jess maybe gain a bit of clarity about their relationship. It’s a very difficult time for her and she has a lot to process but she finds herself a tribe with Jimmy, Ian and Diego and the four of them are so great together.

Jess’ family is a bit unconventional – her sister Annabelle has two children to different fathers, neither of whom stuck around to help with the parenting and one of the children has special needs. So Jess and her mother have always ‘pitched in’ to make sure that Annabelle can cope. Their mother spends large portions of her life seemingly going through hippie style fads and their father works abroad a lot so has been absent for long stretches of their lives. Through unfortunate timing and coincidence, whilst Jess is in South Africa she discovers something about their father which rocks her world. To a lesser extent Annabelle is devastated too but Jess definitely takes it the hardest. It seems to really ramp up her anxiety and stress levels and she struggles to accept what she has uncovered and what it means for her and how many things she’s been told growing up are a lie. Jess really has to deal with quite a lot happening to her in quite a short amount of time but it’s sort of also true that these things also help strengthen her and bring out the best in her, after she’s been through the worst. I really liked her bond with her sister and how the family had all pitched in to help Annabelle and also their reluctance to understand that perhaps that level of involvement was no longer needed. It can be difficult to take a step back from something you’ve been very involved in. And it’s coming at a time of great upheaval and change, which perhaps makes it all the more difficult.

I found this a really entertaining read but with a serious side too, which gave it some added depth. I enjoyed it a huge amount – I really want to read Catherine Bennetto’s first novel, How Not To Fall In Love, Actually and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her future releases.


Book #137 of 2018


2 responses to “Review: Make Or Break by Catherine Bennetto

  1. Marg says:

    Having been to Cape Town this year (and loved it) I think I am going to have to read this one.

    • You can tell me if it referenced it accurately! I’ve no idea if that’s what Cape Town is really like but this book just made it seem like it has such an amazing vibe and like it’d be a fabulous place to have a holiday.

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