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Author: Ann Oakley
Title: A proper holiday
Published: 1996 by Flamingo

Actually, there are four main characters in the book, but one of them is the most important: Crispin Delancey. Crispin has two daughters: Jade (16) and Star (15), he is married with Dodo Delancy. Crispin has his own company: Delancey Designs. So Crispin is a businessman. There is nothing said about Dodo’s job and if the girls have jobs. This family is on holiday in Turkey, that’s were the story takes places. Normally, this family lives in Hampstead (England), but they are on holiday to escape the day-to-day life at home.

A proper holiday, that is the name of the travel agency the family travels with. And I think they expected it to be a proper holiday, but they had found out it would not be such a proper holiday because of their daughters. I can not give this book a specific category, it is described as fiction (of course, all books are fiction), but I classify it as a roman or drama. The sub-theme is family-drama. There are no clear motives to the themes in this book. The life-story of a couple teenagers, some fathers and some mothers who meet in Turkey is told.
The composition in this story is chronological. One family, the Delancey’s, are on holiday in Turkey, over there, they meet the Uptons, the Dunkerley’s and the Holbeach’ and Aaron and Meg Shaw. They do some things together; their lives come to gather in Turkey in Hotel Rhapsody Palas. There are many families and many characters, but I’m not going to discuss all of them.

Crispin Delancey is the most important, he has come to Turkey with the mentality to escape the daily life and take a rest there. But the vacation turned out to be extremely different than his expectations. His adolescent daughters do not want to hang around with their parents. And the first day at the swimming pool in the hotel, Crispin meets Meg. Meg is the woman in the golden bikini; she has one son and no partner or husband. The first moment he saw her, he felt like a youngster, he fell in love again. He want to spend as much time with her as possible, they even have sex, while his wife was sleeping three rooms ahead.

Then we have Jade and Star, two girls who do not want to hang around with their parents watching culture. They want to party at the discotheques, meet boys and have fun. So they act quite rude to their parents as they propose to go somewhere with the family. But the girls see their dad through; he’s dating with some other woman.

Dodo Delancey, naive as she is, does not know anything about her husband’s secret relationship with Meg. She came to Turkey to rest.

The other families; the Dunkerleys, the Uptons and the Holbeach also have their own problems. Martin Holbeach has a son; Josh (17) who has tried everything, drugs, sex and alcohol. Name it and he knows what you’re talking about. But the problems begin when Josh starts dating with Jade, and when the other tourists finds out that he has bought drugs in the village near their hotel. At the ending, it appears that Martin Holbeach walks around in woman clothes in town when he said he went back to London.

I have sympathy for Ms. Delancey, who doesn’t know what her husband’s doing with that Meg Shaw, she has also troubles with their daughters. What turned out to be a calm vacation became a nightmare. Her meanings are so good, but they’re not accepted by the family.
I also have sympathy for Star, she’s acting tough but she has a small heart. She admires her sister, and wants to behave like her too. Although, she is younger about a year.

The subject where this book is about is quite simple. A family (father, mother and two daughters) are in Turkey on holiday. But Jade and Star are my age, so I think I did the same when I had to go watching culture with my parents. Not that I’d be so rude to them, but I’d rather go out. I like the things Jade and Star witness (except for the mud-bath), it is pleasant to read how they fill in their vacation. The negative parts of the book are the conversations between the parents.

Except the contents, this book also approaches me because of the writing-style. The senses are easy and not many difficult words are used. Some passages I hardly understand because of the sentence structure, but the others rectified, so I understood the whole story.
As I said, the composition was clear, nothing to blame. There are no jumps in time, it is all chronological.
The events in the book all have a purpose. The fact that Crispin dates with Meg lets him realize that he isn’t happy with Dodo. But after all, he finds out that Meg is just a diversion.
Martin Holbeach went back to London for business. Actually, he was just in town, but in woman clothes. Portia and Aaron had recognized him.
Martin finally concludes that his wife (Sandy) is better of without him, and even his son Josh is better of without him. So he is going to leave Sandy. But what Martin doesn’t know, is that Sandy is cheating on him with Ronald.
Suddenly the tourists are being startled by a death in the mud baths; Gareth Barrett. He travels with Proper Holiday too. After a post-mortem, it turned out that he died of a heart-attack. But why would someone with such a bad health go to the mud-baths? It came true that he has AIDS, and the mud-bath would be good for his health. So fortunate, there was no murder.
This book has taught me some important things; the way how to look at other people and the fact that sometimes, unexpected things happen. You can’t predict everything. Some things just happen.
At the final end, all individuals find out what it means to have a friend and how it feels to be cheated. The grown-ups are asking themselves if they are good parents. Each of them has children and some kids need special care. They talk about this with Meg, because Meg is a social worker. That evolves out of a vehement discussion in which the Mum’s and Dad’s are cursing at each other, on the way they raise their kids.
I’ve changed my opinion about this category books. It is just a normal life-story, it’s not very fascinating. No unique things happen. All the things they witness could I witness too, well that also makes the story coming closer to me.
It is interesting to read something in English, but if this would be a Dutch book, I would never choose this.