Review: The Doris Day Vintage Film Club by Fiona Harper

Saturday 25 April 2015
Title: The Doris Day Vintage Film Club
Author: Fiona Harper
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Publication Date: 23rd April 2015
Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780263253399
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Claire Bixby grew up watching Doris Day films at her grandmother’s house and yearned to live in a world like the one on the screen – sunny, colourful and where happy endings with chiselled leading men were guaranteed. But recently Claire’s opportunities for a little ‘pillow talk’ have been thin on the ground.

Until she meets mysterious Dominic. Nic is full of secrets but their connection is instant. Could he help Claire finding the Hollywood ending she’s been searching for? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

I start this review with a confession: I am a massive Doris Day fan (there, I've said it), and I was very excited when I heard about this book. Favourite film? Calamity Jane, quite easily given that I've probably watched it close to a hundred times!

Claire Bixby grew up watching Doris Day films at her grandmother's house, yearning to live in a world like the one on screen, where a happy ending was always guaranteed. Claire is basically muddling along through life, running the Doris Day film club and her very successful travel company. One day she meets the mysterious Dominic, a man full of secrets but their connection cannot be denied. Could he be the man to provide Claire with her Hollywood ending? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

I loved that we got chapters from Dominic. All too often the male character in books like this is no different from any other, yet being able to see things from Nic's point of view meant that we understood him more, and knew what he was thinking (as opposed to our female main character telling us what she assumes he's thinking). Both are very believable characters, who readers will really be able to root for. Claire's introduction to Dominic is brilliant, and allows for plenty of twists, and hilarity as the book progresses. I loved how each chapter was titled with a Doris Day song, and I found myself picturing scenes from the films they were taken from numerous times as I read. An example and one of my favourites being Calamity Jane's I Can Do Without You as our two characters clash for the first of many times.

There's a couple of secondary characters that I really liked, I won't list them all but two that stood out were George, an older member of the film club, not gay as one would assume, but somebody who had fallen in love with Doris at the age of eleven, and felt that no other woman could ever compete. There's also Abby, a little bit of a tomboy her mother forces her to attend the film club, with the hope that it will make her more ladylike. The group show her a Doris Day film for inspiration (and all the time I was wondering why it wasn't Calamity Jane!).

I wonder just how many girls of today will even know Doris Day, let alone have discovered her movies, so hopefully anybody reading these books will take the time to check them out. What was a particular highlight of the book for me was the amount of research that has clearly gone into the book. The blurb gives the idea that Claire likes Doris simply because of the fluffy movies with their perfect endings, yet there's a number of reasons just why she loves Doris so much. I bought a copy of Doris Day's (yellowed and battered) autobiography from Amazon years ago, and was quite stunned at the life that she lived, and both the on-screen and off-screen Doris I feel are inspirations to women, and it's a shame that some of the women who are role models today don't always have the same level of class and elegance. Fiona picks up on things that I think a lot of Doris fans might not even know, and it gives the book so much authenticity, and it's so much more enjoyable because of it.

The Doris Day Vintage Film Club is a book that I could sit and talk about all day, and I have so many favourite scenes and moments from it that I could reel off, but that would of course ruin the book for potential readers. Perhaps those of us that have read the book could form The Doris Day Vintage Film Club Book Club, bit of a mouthful? Either way, you'll finish this book and want to recommend it to all of your friends. It's the most fun I have had reading a book for a while, and I was sad to finish it, not just because I wasn't ready to leave the characters but because I felt like the book needed a couple more chapters but I have to say the ending, and the chapters leading up to it, is one of the best I have read this year. Quite easily one of the best books I have read this month, and one that I highly recommend.


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