BOOK REVIEW: Heading South by Luke Bitmead and Catherine Richards

HeadingsouthI love the idea of books written by a man and woman together - Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer - you generally get both perspectives (male and female, that is) convincingly. Heading South is different. While it's written by a man and woman, Luke Bitmead and Catherine Richards conceived the idea to see if they could write convincingly as the opposite sex, i.e. Luke wrote as Cassie and Catherine as Nick. Luke and Catherine met via an online writing forum, but had never met in person when Luke tragically died last October, aged just 34.

Heading South doesn't have an enormous amount of plot. Basically Cassie is an artist, living in the Gloucestershire countryside with a menagerie of animals. She loves her life and her friends, but she hasn't yet found the right man. Nick lives in Sheffield and is nursing a broken heart. He's been unceremoniously dumped by his fiance and he's lost his job. But when a friend looks him up and invites himself to visit his family and new business in Gloucestershire, Nick finds himself heading south...

To begin with I didn't think I was going to be able to keep reading this book. Cassie is the most incredibly twee character I've read for a long time. I did like her, but she's so desperately, painfully sweet that I really struggled to identify with her (her pets are named after the AA Milne stories: a dog called Pooh, pheasant named Eeyore, even a horse called Christopher Robin). I found Nick more convincing than Cassie, but not particularly special. I liked him, but I didn't fall in love with him.

I never would have guessed that each character had been written by the author of the opposite sex, though, so Richards and Bitmead were certainly successful in their endeavour. 

Heading South is nothing new, but it was a bit like an old-fashioned respite from the real world. During the day, I found myself looking forward to getting back to it and losing myself in a world where women say "Crumbs!"

Rating: 3/5

Like this? Try Come Together by Josie Lloyd and Emlyn Rees

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