Some books I like to go into blind. By that I mean not knowing anything about the plot before starting to read it. Freckles was one of those books. All I had in my mind was Irish author Cecelia Ahern’s signature style of romantic, character led stories – so it was such a delight to have my pre-conceptions both challenged and met. Let me explain…
Opening sentence: The crunch of a snail under my shoe, in the darkness.
A traffic warden in a seaside town
Cecelia Ahern has pulled off a near-impossible feat in this book: she makes you feel sympathy for a traffic warden. The traffic warden in question is Allegra Bird, a native of Valentia Island in Kerry, West Ireland, she moves to Malahide, Dublin in her early 20s to start a new chapter in her life.
There is a unique and engaging hook to the mission that Allegra finds herself on. During an encounter with a man angry about his parking ticket, Allegra hears the phrase:
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
This sets her on a path of reflection. Who does she spend her time with and how do they influence her life? She’s come to Dublin for a reason that ties back with this (no spoilers, so I won’t say here) and we learn more about the key relationships in her life – from her slightly eccentric father to Tristan, the man who was angry about his parking ticket and sparked this chain of events.
The enigmatic Allegra Bird AKA Freckles
Freckles had far more edge than I was expecting and Allegra is a wonderfully crafted, complex character. She displays her vulnerability and sadness through her Freckles nickname by drawing (then carving) the pattern of constellations on her arm freckles but then has more self assurance than she perhaps realises. She poses as a nude model for art classes (which, I think, shows a strong level of self-worth) and she knows her own mind.
I find that though I am the person naked in the centre of a room, the artists reveal so much more about themselves than I do.
Sometimes doesn’t back down, even when it’s more socially acceptable to do that and has a tendency to take things too literally. She does have a big heart though and her unique view on things is rooted in kindness.
So easy to read, Freckles was emotionally engaging, had lovely insights into human nature and was often funny. The ending was exceptionally heartwarming, while not playing into all the conventions you assumed it would – for that reason I found Freckles refreshing and an out-of-the-blue, completely capturing read. It left me with a warm and fuzzy uplifting feeling. And sometimes you just have to read books that have the power to do that.
(It also reminded me a little of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman in places. Another excellent read!)
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of Freckles here;
- Published by HarperCollins 2nd September 2021;
- 352 pages;
- My rating: