Undertaking Love – Kat French

This is a stereotypical chick lit novel. That is not a criticism of the book but a statement of fact in my opinion. What makes it different to something that you may have not read before perhaps is the premise and the characters. Weddings and Funerals.

First of all there is Marla, an American, vehemently single and against marriage living in a small English Village running a wedding chapel. No it is not Vegas, this is Shropshire. With her is her gay friend and wedding celebrant, Jonny. Then there is the delightful Emily and her husband Tom, who I both loved from the start far more than Marla and wanted their characters certainly developed more deeply.

Everything is going well, until a new place opens up in town, not just in the village but opposite the wedding chapel. It is not really competition but Marla is convinced it will be bad for business – it is a funeral directors. Run by the dark and brooding Irishman Gabe. He thinks that both places can exist quite happily together. Marla has other ideas.

So cupid and his arrows have been sent to both Marla and Gabe and it seems now they are not just fighting about the survival of their businesses.

Add in a few more wild and wonderful secondary characters, such as Melanie, Gabe’s receptionist, his friend Dan who helps with the more practical side of running a funeral directors. Rupert who seems to be a typical ‘hack’ and has his eye on more than the exclusive article. Ivan and Dora add age to the list of characters, their wisdom and humour make the younger characters reflect a lot more. And of course there is Bluey, Marla’s dog and faithful companion.

Much is packed into this novel and at times it did make me laugh out loud and I admit to shedding the odd tear or two at points. However, I really could not believe in Marla. Her attitude was so scathing and she had immediately decided her business was going to fail because of something which I felt is a fact of life. Death. I know her business relied on the happier moments of life, but I was pleased when Gabe showed her on occasions that actually there is much to be celebrated of the life of someone who has died. Marla was straight in from the beginning, against the funeral directors and ended up with egg on her face (something that I was glad about) in her handling of the feud she had created and that had been escalated by her friend Jonny. A very good description of the media of today.

I knew from the very beginning who was going to end up with who and I carried on reading because I wanted to see if Gabe could possibly make Marla slightly more pleasant and human. This is what grated me with this book – the character of Marla. A well written character if she can get up your nose so well perhaps? Or one that could have needed more work? Only if you read the book will you be able to judge for yourself.

There is enough good and evil in the book for it to be what you would expect in a ‘chick-lit’ novel, the baddies get their comeuppance, the good ones get their goal (with heartache along the way). Having never read any of Kat French’s work before this was an escapism read that can be forgotten.

I understand that Kat French also writes under the name Kitty French as an author of erotic fiction. This book is certainly not that, (thank goodness) but I would not put it up there with the likes of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley, Veronica Henry et al. It would need a bit of polishing. I think it was the premise Wedding Chapel versus Funeral Director that did not sit comfortably with me. Would have just needed christenings and you would have had it all Hatches, Matches and Dispatches! 

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