You might have seen that I had the pleasure of featuring Elaine Spires’ Singles, Set and Match back in July – that was the fifth in her Singles series, and you can read my review again here. I was delighted though when I saw that Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources was organising a promotional blitz for the third in the series, Single All The Way, first published for kindle in 2014, and available via Amazon in the UK and US.
I vividly remember reading this one – entirely out of season (and probably even better if read in the run-up to Christmas!), but when I was on a singles’ break of my own in South America. It was how I discovered this lovely series – Elaine assured me that I’d be fine leaping straight in, despite not having read the earlier books, and she was absolutely right. So it’s a pleasure to share again my (slightly edited) 2015 review… and to urge you to try this lovely series.
Travel Together Tour Manager Eve Mitchell is planning a quiet Christmas at home to rest and relax before a special New Year. But she soon, very unexpectedly, finds herself in the depths of the Essex countryside looking after a singles’ group which contains some old, familiar faces and some pleasant – and not so pleasant – new ones. With its country walks, quizzes, disco and black-tie ball, the Christmas and Twixmas Break passes quickly, but just as they think it’s all over the plot takes a twist and we learn some dark secrets…
So not entirely a standalone, part of a lovely series – there are references to characters and incidents in the two earlier books, but worry not, there’s more than enough detail to allow you to catch up.
Eve, the tour manager, is a wonderful character (if only all tour managers could be like her!), with a fascinating story of her own, and the patience of a saint: she puts her own plans for a solitary and relaxing Christmas on temporary hold to take charge of a group on a break in a country house hotel, and the fun begins.
I really love stories where you have a cast of characters all with their own stories – some shared, some hidden, some hidden very deeply – and you soon get to know the group. In fact, not just the group – many of the hotel staff have their own stories too.
This is a big cast of characters, but things never get confusing – and as with every holiday group I’ve ever been with, everyone has their own story, some laugh-out-loud funny, some heartbreakingly sad. There will always be people you really like – I adored Penny and Dave. There’s usually the almost indistinguishable group of Sues – and the male jokers, happy to take whatever’s on offer. And – sadly – there’s almost always an Angela.
Elaine writes so well – with wonderful descriptions, and excellent characters deftly drawn in a few strokes. Every story within the story is real and fascinating…
I’d really recommend Single All The Way as a Christmassy read, a fascinating look at individuals in all their complexity, and a realistic insight into the world of singles holidays. And it’s really good fun too – I thoroughly enjoyed it.
About the author
Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, capturing the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.
Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series – Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea. Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series. Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019. Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019.
Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.