The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

I have been a devotee of historical fiction for a long time, dipping in and out of various time periods as the fancy takes me. However when I picked up this one for the first time, I had no idea who the lead character was.

The opportunity to learn more about the less famous Boleyn sister, as well as a general interest in the Tudor period made me open the book. The sheer depth of the research that Gregory must have done, hit me from the first few pages, and only now do I fully understand how many hours in reading history books, and other reference points she must have undertaken to infuse the pages with so much detail.

It almost felt like a non fiction book because of the depth of detail that Gregory includes, creating a extremely vivid picture of what life at Henry the Eighth's court might have been like.

Her ability to reveal what might have been the innermost thoughts of a girl, forced by her father, and other male relatives first into a marriage, and then into a extramarital affair, only to be supplanted by her own sister, and then watch the same sister be executed alongside their brother for supposed adultery, is extraordinary.

The delicate yet seemingly effortless way that Gregory reveals all of the confused emotions which Mary goes through, produces a portrait of a girl who despite the fact that she lived in the 1500's, and experienced a world that I will never know, felt very relatable to me. There was sympathy in Mary's thoughts for her sister Anne, and a great affection for both her brother George and her niece Elizabeth, showing that whatever Mary's true character might have been, Gregory at least is a believer in her better qualities.

If you haven't already read this book, and have any interest in historical fiction then I advise you to pick it up. I highly doubt that you will be sorry for the experience.

After the Crash by Michel Bussi

I probably shouldn't have taken this particular book with me, when I went to Dublin. I don't mean that in a negative way or that it was a terrible book, because it was very well written, with fascinating characters throughout, but the subject matter wasn't the right thing to be reading about on my first ever flight.

I didn't read the back of the book, or register the title really until I had sat down, and then realised that the crash referred to a plane crash. Needless to say, I left the book until I was safely back on solid ground again. I didn't need a extra reason to feel apprehensive during the flight.

Later that evening, after I had seen something of Dublin's wonderful sights, and I had eaten in one of the many pubs, I settled down to read some of the book, back in the hotel room.I know, I know, going away and still just reading books in the evening, is a bit boring, but hey I'm a bookworm and proud of it. Although actually I only intended to read for half a hour or so, but the narrative grabbed hold of me, and I was intrigued by the character of Malvina in particular. I don't think I've ever come across a character like her before, and I've read quite a few books over the years.

It was the first of Bussi's books that I have read, and judging by the standard of his writing ability, and the capacity to create interesting and diverse characters amid a complex narrative structure, I will be eagerly reading the others if they are translated into English. Unfortunately for me. a GCSE level French speaker, and for anyone who has a similar ability to me in French, everything he's produced barring After the Crash is currently out of my reach.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I recently reread this book, as I had to for a reading group that I am part of. I wanted to refresh my memory about one of my favourite childhood books, to see if it was still as good as I remembered. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest, as I felt the exact same way about all the characters as I had done twenty years ago. 

Jo was always the one that I felt the strongest connection with, being as she was the tomboyish writer. I wasn't ever a girly girl like Meg and Amy were drawn to be, and I definitely wasn't as selfless as Beth, although I was quiet and reserved about my emotions. The section in which Jo leaves home in pursuit of her writing ambitions was something that I wished that I could experience one day, as I sat scribbling short pieces of fiction in my bedroom.

 

I also related to the stormy relationship that Jo and Amy had throughout the novel, because my relationship with my brother in particular wasn't without it's tensions. Although thankfully he never burnt any of my writing, he did destroy a couple of my toys after I had done something to irritate him.

Alcott manages to create four distinct characters in the four sisters, who share a tight bond without a strong male influence for the majority of the novel. Her own father was absent for at least part of her childhood, not at war but in England trying to gain some financial independence back after a failed attempt to run his own school.

 

Alcott was evidently a staunch believer in the old adage that writers are supposed to work by namely 'write what you know', incorporating her own mother's ability to run the household without the influence of a man, her desire to write for a living, and the death of her sister Lizzie into the novel.

 

Lizzie is largely accepted to be the sister that Beth is based on. She was the shy and reserved sister who kept house while the elder Alcott girls were out at work. She contracted scarlet fever, battling it for two years before passing away.

 

Shortly after the death of Lizzie, another event happened that Alcott placed almost whole into the novel. Her sister Anna announced her engagement, and Alcott reportedly reacted in a similar way to Jo does, when Jo discovers that Meg is to marry John Brooke.

 

Alcott's ability to create endearing and realistic characters is part of the reason that I still enjoy reading the novel. I like spending time in the largely female dominated world of the March girls, and Alcott was one of the first writers that I read as a child, which showed me that I didn't have to necessarily always rely on a male partner in order to live a fully happy life.

The Bees by Laline Paull

I had no preconceptions when starting to read this. I have next to no knowledge about bees, and their structure within a hive, apart from the fact that there's a Queen and drones. I don't know anything about Paull, either her personal background or what writing experience she had before this was published.

The lack of knowledge wasn't a stumbling block to enjoying the story however, despite the fact that there are no human characters at all within the narrative. Paull invests the bees, and more particularly the primary character of Flora 717 with such passion, devotion, and courage, that I found myself empathising with her just as much as I would if she had been a human character.

Flora's strength is both emotional, and physical, as she endeavours to protect what is most important to her. Her priorities shift steadily throughout the course of the novel, another very human trait, that it was easy to relate to. Seeing as each change, whether positive or negative, in your life will usually make you reevaluate what you truly value, and how much you are willing to risk to have it.

The power behind Paull's writing, in what I later discovered was her debut, makes me anxious and excited about what she will do next.

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

This is another offering that I received from the reading club that I attend. It seemed to be promising, even if the subject matter is heavy going, seeing as it deals with the first person point of view of a man suffering from some kind of mental illness. Pat Peoples, the lead is separated from his wife Nikki, when the novel opens, and has been living in a psychiatric hospital for a unrevealed amount of time.

I didn't really warm to the character of Pat, which is something of a necessity for reading this book, seeing as everything is seen first person through Pat's eyes. Although his immediate family, particularly his parents are painted as being very protective, and nurturing, I perceived them as being overly controlling, they almost cause Pat to revert to a teenager's behaviour. There are many secrets being kept from him, and Quick, in my opinion drags the mystery of where Nikki is for far too long.

The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson

I'd never heard of this author before, but Heysham library had a large delivery of new books, including this one. I picked it up on a whim, but was greatly impressed.

The basic synopsis on the back of the book, which grabbed my attention is that Eliza Bennet has the life that she's always dreamed of. She's who she wants to be, and she's with the man that she loves. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She's escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of the family. This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia.

The plot divides between Klaudia, her father and her uncle, each of them written in 1st person, and distinct, a feat that is very difficult to achieve. Sarginson also has different time periods, as she visits 1996, the pre war years in Germany, and also visits the second world war in terms of flashbacks.

Klaudia/Eliza is a character that I found easy to like, I felt great sympathy for her especially during the flashbacks to her primary school days.

Her father was a little harder to empathise with, after seeing him through her eyes for a chunk of the book, but the detailed descriptions of the activities of German soldiers during the second world war, and his reactions to certain things that he had to do, humanise him a good deal.

Sarginson takes a risk and uses the ending to start the book, as the Prologue details Klaudia, (unnamed) at that point, talking about the possibility of having to kill someone. I didn't work out the mystery until the tail end of the book, caught up with the characterization, but found that I will be very interested to read anything that Sarginson publishes.

 

 

The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada

Synopsis: In 1991, at a concert in Krakow, a female violinist is approached by a admirer of her violin. She tells him the story of how it was made, by a man named Daniel who was a prisoner at Auschwitz.

It's a thin book, but given the subject matter delivers a great deal of power. The sections within the concentration camp, in particular, are described with a deft hand, revealing some details about the cruelty that the Nazis subjected their victims to, that I had been previously unaware of. I knew of the death camps, Kristalnacht, the yellow stars, and the gas chambers that millions lost their lives in, but didn't know very much about the day to day suffering of those within the death camps.

I was impressed by the amount of research that Anglada had evidently done, in both the inner workings of the Nazi camps, and how violins are put together.

Daniel suffers the indignity of having to pose in borrowed warm clothing, in a series of photographs for Nazi propaganda, 'the prisoners staved off the blows by means of the bitter simulacrum of a smile, the girl photographed them from various angles'. He calms himself, by focusing on the task of creating the violin, something that he is so used to from the time before the Nazi regime really took hold. The remembrances of his mother, and her cooking are truly touching, as are the mentions of the brave inmates such as the former professor who will slip bread to his fellow prisoners, risking death or a whipping for the simple action.

I was relieved to see that at least some of the prisoners, escaped with the aid of Count Bernadotte, another remarkable man who saved hundreds of Nazi prisoners from the concentration camps. I had never heard of him, but was inspired by this book to research into the man. I was stunned to see that he had been assassinated by Jewish terrorists, a mere three years after the war ended, after saving 31,000 prisoners.

This book is a elegant blending of real people and fictional characters, during a horrific period of human history, which everyone could benefit from reading, regardless of their personal political beliefs.

 

Intrigue at Highbury or Emma's Match by Carrie Bebris

Synopsis: Elizabeth and Darcy are on their way to stay with Colonel Fitzwilliam, but are robbed when travelling through Highbury. They seek out Mr Knightley in his function as magistrate, not knowing that he has a mystery of his own to solve. Frank Churchill's adoptive father Edgar has been poisoned during the celebrations of Frank's marriage to Jane Fairfax. The Knightleys and the Darcys come together to solve the mystery, when they realise that the poisoning and the theft are connected.

I always enjoy Bebris's mysteries involving the Darcys, and this one is no exception. Bebris has a clear handle on Austen, understanding the inner workings of her characters, and reproduces them without any glaring changes. She has Emma be up to her old tricks, attempting to provide Miss Bates with a suitable match, after Mrs Elton decides that a mentally challenged farmer would be the ideal husband for Miss Bates.

Elizabeth is as forthright and perceptive as she was in Pride and Prejudice, her interplay with Darcy including some funny dialogue. She and Emma become friends rapidly, bonding over their husbands' mutual love of husbandry, and sympathising with each other.

I like the fact that we get to see different characters from Austen's novels interact, and it's always in a natural way. I don't think I've seen them act in a way which seems counter to the characteristics that Austen originally gave to them, and I've read each of Bebris' Darcy focused novels multiple times.

I Heart Vegas by Lindsay Kelk

Synopsis: Angela is living with Alex, but receives a shock when the INS tells her that she's in danger of losing her visa. She avoids telling Alex the truth about it, telling Jenny, and Erin, and then accepting a surprise trip to Vegas from Jenny. Alex finds out, and then comes to Vegas as part of Jenny's ex Jeff's entourage on his stag do.

Angela's exactly the same as she always is, she decides to welcome Alex back from a tour of Japan, by wearing just her underwear. Unfortunately she falls asleep, and he comes back with his bandmates Graham and Craig. It's a early comedy moment, as she falls over, damaging her leg, and tries to hide her semi nakedness from Craig.

Angela reconnects with James Jacobs', a character who first appeared in I heart Hollywood. He's gay, and she comes across him with another man in the toilet. I like the interplay between them, such lines as 'Shagging in the toilets again? Was George Michael a lesson to no one?', and James's retort 'I'm not ram raiding Snappy Snaps am I?' made me laugh out loud.

It's another book packed with comedic moments, but also has Jenny's confusion over who she wants to be with, as well as Angela trying to figure out how to get her visa. She makes the mistake of asking Alex to marry her for the visa, which hurts and surprises him.

I'd probably give it 4 out of 5

Thornfield Hall by Jane Stubbs

I liked it. Let me say that first, although it does take certain liberties, and unusual shifts from Jane Eyre. It's clear that Stubbs is familiar with the world, and has done research beyond rereading the original. She develops Mrs Fairfax's back story beyond the bare bones which Bronte offered, as she concentrated on Jane Eyre's history, but it's believable back story.

I haven't read Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, which focuses on Bertha Mason, so I have no idea how Bertha was represented in that work, but Stubbs presents her as someone to be pitied, and that has moments of clarity. Mrs Fairfax's thoughts are in the first person throughout the novel, and it's clear that Stubbs intends her to have a slightly darker edge. Stubbs' Mrs Fairfax is indirectly responsible for the ruination of a housemaid, well that's not entirely true, she arranges for Martha, a surly maid with pretensions of being a lady's maid to join the Ingram household, and the girl falls pregnant by Blanche's younger brother.

Blanche is painted in a very negative light, accused of injuring Martha's upper arms until they are 'black with bruises' and her brother pays Martha five guineas to not mention who the father of her baby is.

It's a interesting take, but there are some moments that purists will hate. I have to confess that I was taken aback by the fact that Mrs Fairfax seems to be more interested in spending time with Bertha than Jane during large sections of the book. Stubbs tells us that Mrs Fairfax thinks of Jane as being a 'silly girl' particularly in the early stages of their acquaintance.

Stubbs' take is a easy book to read, and well worth a look, but doesn't have the same elegance of writing style as Jo Baker's Longbourn, which does a similar thing, in that it reveals the inner thoughts of the servants featured in a classic, but Baker does it for Pride and Prejudice. I would only suggest it if you are a reader that is open to classics' being reinterpreted. If you are a purist, then some of Stubbs' writing choices will leave you cold.

 

 

The Outsider by Jason Dean

Synopsis

Jason Strickland and his son are in witness protection, and have seven days before he testifies. He is being protected by US Marshal Angela Delaney, and she suspects a inside leak so seeks outside help from a old friend. James Bishop is a former marine, experienced in working protection but he never expected to see Angela again. However when he meets Strickland and his son, he immediately agrees to protect them. 

 

It's fast moving, and full of exciting set pieces. Dean clearly has the knack of creating twists and turns in thrillers, and also makes the characters believable and likable. It's necessary to make the lead character in this kind of story, empathetic but capable of great violence when they need to be, and Dean manages to make Bishop into a character that I could actually like a lot. 

Dean also creates a friendship between Clea, a character that helps Bishop and Strickland get quite far along in their mission and the two men. This is despite the fact that the relationship begins because Bishop pulls a gun on her. It's refreshing that the relationship between her and Bishop doesn't tip over into romance as well. 

Barney, Strickland's son is very composed despite all the things that he is put through over the course of the novel. He manages to keep a level head even after being kidnapped, and losing his mother, despite the fact that he is still a teenager. 

If you enjoy action packed stories with a lot of twists and turns, then this is definitely one to consider. 

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

I found this story, of a sports mad man and the woman who has to live with him very amusing. Lexi isn't a fan of sports, but her partner of seven years enjoys watching sports as varied as cricket, football, darts and boxing. It only becomes a problem for her when she realises that he lied to her in order to miss her friend's wedding. 

Lexi's attempts at revenge will make most people laugh, especially those who have to live with a sports fan. It's sweet when she and her boyfriend begin to reconnect as well. Lexi's friends are also memorable and likable characters, one of which who is a little like Samantha from Sex and the City. It's well written and witty, and there are good character descriptions for Lexi's friends and family.

Nina is not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Synopsis

Nina is a heavy drinking college student, her friends enjoy her status as 'college legend' for her drunken escapades and don't seem to be very concerned about her at the outset of the novel. However one Saturday night, even her friends don't have a clue about what she got up to, and things begin to take a darker turn in Nina's life.

 

I knew of Khorsandi through her stand up, having watched her perform on Mock the Week and wondered if any of the darker edged humour she used then would cross over into her novel. I needn't have worried, Nina is written from the 1st person point of view, and has a well developed black sense of humour to enable her to deal with the difficulties of her past.

She has been given a number of different causes that might have contributed to her drinking problem. Her father's early death from pancreatis, her mother's remarriage to someone she's not very fond of, her boyfriend dumping her after he moves to Hong Kong, and her grandma's suicide at Morden train station could possibly be things that she suppresses with the aid of alcohol.

The bond that she has with her younger half sister Katie is particularly touching, as even in the midst of Nina's darkest episodes with alcohol, she tries her best to shield Katie from the realities of what she's dealing with, and is by and large a dedicated and protective big sister. She clearly loves Katie, worrying about the fact that Katie's fingers and toes on her left side aren't 'formed properly...she has missing digits and the ones there are, are gnarled stumps'.

Khorsandi captures the reality of how college students can be with each other perfectly, showing both the good and the bad. Nina has a strong bond, dating from early childhood with Beth, who shares a similar sense of humour and stands by Nina throughout the majority of the novel. There is only one event that really puts Nina's friendship with Beth at jeopardy, coming about halfway through, however they reconcile fairly quickly.

There are a few moments when Nina's behaviour, and life choices are definitely hard to empathise with, given that I've no real experience with the issues she deals with. However Khorsandi has created a character that it's very hard not to like, and root for, particularly during the break down of her friendship with Zoe. Zoe is the third member of her tight friendship group, but doesn't really share a lot of characteristics with Beth or Nina.

If you want to read a ultimately inspiring and touching novel, about a teenager managing to deal with some of her demons then Khorsandi has produced one with a good deal of heart and humour. It's definitely one to pick up.

 

Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe

Synopsis

Ellis Dau has spent his childhood dreaming of London, New York and Ashford in Kent, from his home in Kyrzbekistan. When he's expelled from school, his father takes him to work with him at the Chronicle, the last remnant of free speech in the highly repressive country. As Ellis starts to fall in love, with the local oligarch's daughter, he grows to learn that some things are worth fighting for. 

 

It's a relief to see that Wroe's ability to reveal the eccentricities in his characters has not lessened in his second book. Ellis starts off the novel as a very mixed up sixteen year old, and I recognised his melodramatic tendencies from my own teenage years, as Ellis thinks of his grounding as being a prisoner, telling his mother 'this is a gross injustice'. 

His father Cornelius possesses some unique traits such as standing on his head every morning for ten minutes, and is a mystery for Ellis. I like the fact that Wroe includes this detail, as many teenagers have no idea why their parents behave the way that they do, and it's endearing that Ellis 'would put on his father's spare town shoes and walk about' in a attempt to understand his father, as well as absorbing 'the serious adult power he imagined lay within'. It's only when Cornelius takes Ellis to work with him, that Ellis sees something more to his father than the very taciturn and quiet man that Cornelius is at home. Wroe's way of describing the difference is memorable as well 'the dry riverbed of conversation became a raging torrent'.

Wroe divides the book into three sections, First Glimpses, Cuts and These words are forbidden. First Glimpses ends with Ellis realising that his father can't solve everything, and that he had only ever been 'the small, the neutral'. Cuts is about Ellis becoming stronger, and learning to care about freedom of speech for his fellow countrymen, however I think it's the arrest of his mother that truly tips him over into action.

Wroe's ability to paint graphic pictures for the reader comes out again, and inevitably there are violent sections of the novel, given that there are a group calling themselves the Horsemen who seek to oppress wide swathes of the Kyrzbekistan people.

Each of the characters Wroe creates within the novel are flawed, but those that Ellis is interacting with regularly, seem to have a shared tendency to stand up against oppression regardless of the personal consequences. Joan, Ellis's love interest is brave from the outset reacting with 'deep reverential boredom' to Grotz, the leader of the Horsemen. Cornelius tells Grotz that they are 'thugs' even after the Chronicle has been trashed.

However dark the events of the book get, Wroe has created patches of lightness as well. He creates situations for Ellis to get into, such as trying to get into a nightclub, and making up his own game of 'body bowling', which are very funny.

This book confirms my opinion of Wroe as a incredibly gifted writer with a keen eye for the quirks and silliness that can exist in human nature. I will be keeping a look out for whatever he does next. 

 

A night in with Grace Kelly by Lucy Holliday

Synopsis

Libby Lomax has realised that her best friend Olly is the one for her, but he's happy and in love with Tash.Another conflict is the fact that she is trying to make her own business work, and making a bad first impression on her financial backer. Fortunately Libby meets Joel in a accidental meeting straight out of a romantic comedy. Soon afterwards Grace Kelly appears, and tries to help Libby see that happy endings aren't just for fairy tales. 

 

This is the last one in the trilogy that Holliday created to feature Libby. I read the first one in which Libby meets Audrey Hepburn and thoroughly enjoyed it. Libby is a avid film fan who grew up idolising the stars of Hollywood's golden years through her father. Holliday's version of Grace Kelly is initially reluctant to accept the idea of Libby being real, and persists in thinking of Libby as a figment of her own imagination. 

Libby is still surrounded by distinct and endearing characters such as Bogdan- the aspiring hairdresser who mixes up his idioms regularly. Nora- the always supportive best friend. Her sister and mother who focus on their own lives rather than Libby. Her mother has traits similar to Mrs Bennet from Austen's Pride and Prejudice, in that she wants her children to achieve big things, and form a attachment preferably with a wealthy man. 

Holliday made Libby into a very supportive and loving character in the first book, prone to putting others before herself, and keeps that trait intact in this one. Libby is there for her ex boyfriend Dillon, a relapsing alcoholic. He made a appearance in the first book, and was the obstacle between Olly and Libby, as he was her main love interest then. 

It's a lighthearted and well written novel, with a unusual secondary character in Grace Kelly. Holliday's Grace is unsure of whether she truly wants to be married to Prince Rainer, and has had a relationship with Cary Grant. I don't know if Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe interacted very much in reality, but Holliday has them banding together to save Libby's life, and also giving their own take on what is important in romantic relationships. 

I really enjoyed this one, and will be seeking out the second one so that I can fill in the gaps in Libby's story seeing as Holliday currently doesn't intend to write further adventures for her and Olly. 

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante

Synopsis

Jane Tennison is promoted from WPC to DC and joins Bow Street station, the move makes her conflicted. She doubts the way that her colleagues investigate crimes and deal with suspects. 

La Plante's Tennison has been a byword for strong female character within crime drama for years, and La Plante shows that strength even though this novel is set in Tennison's early career. I was glad of that, enjoying seeing such a strong and determined woman holding her own against men who typify 1970's views within the police force. 

 

Review of Who do you love? by Jennifer Weiner

Synopsis

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis meet when they're eight years, in a chance meeting in a ER waiting room. Rachel is often at the hospital because of a congenital heart defect, and she helps to calm Andy down after he has broken his arm, by sharing her teddy, and a story along with a pack of mini donuts. They think that they'll never see each other again, after Andy goes for treatment and Rachel goes back to her room.

 

Weiner writes from Rachel and Andy's perspective, alternating their points of view and showing the reader what they have experienced during the years that they spend apart. The characters come back together, eight years after their initial meeting while they are both working on building houses for charity.

Rachel is created as having serious health issues from childhood, but Weiner doesn't paint her as a victim, Rachel endeavours to be just like another teenager. She is kind, witty and connects with Andy primarily because of their mutual loneliness. Andy has long been lonely, because he is mixed race, and doesn't feel like he fits with either the white kids or the black kids.

Andy's escape is the fact that he's a talented runner, and he throws himself into that, eventually becoming a Olympian. He and his mother were the sole members of their family, although it's made clear in Andy and Rachel's first encounter that she's not the most attentive of mothers. She doesn’t realise where her son is until a hour later, and then makes a scene about how the hospital staff have been treating him, although they can't legally treat him without a parent being present.

There were times that I was reminded of One Day by David Nicholls, because of the fact that Weiner tracks the couple over a number of years, and doesn't paint them as perfect beings. They are flawed and relatable, going through many breakups and arguments before finding their place together. 

Review of I take you by Eliza Kennedy

Synopsis

Lily Wilder is a New York based lawyer who is planning her wedding to Will: a museum director. She loves him but finds monogamy a real challenge. 

 

Kennedy writes from Lily's 1st person point of view allowing the reader to get right into Lily's head from the first page. She's created a acerbic, funny and intelligent character who has a very complex family life. Her father has the same inability to settle down in a long term relationship with one woman, and the first three of his wives are attending Lily's wedding. The three women have developed a close friendship, despite the fact that they met because of Lily's dad's philandering. 

There are some distinctive and memorable characters. Ana: one of Lily's stepmothers is a congresswoman from California with a raucous laugh and is only five foot tall. Jane: another of her stepmothers is elegant and well groomed, as well as being very cultured. Freddie: Lily's best friend is a bisexual who has been engaged three times and has a high sex drive. 

Lily's kept a lot of her past hidden from Will and slowly it comes out through her interactions with those she left behind. She hasn't returned to her hometown in nearly thirteen years. Kennedy dripfeeds what might have been the reason that Lily has avoided Key West for so long, slowly allowing the reader to get to know who Lily is at the present point in the story. 

It is a very funny take on the genre, with a lead character who is rightly unapologetic about the fact that she likes to have sex. There are slight similarities with Bridget Jones, in that the main thrust of the story is about a thirty something and her relationships, with friends, family and romantic partners. Although for me Lily is more akin to Samantha from Sex and the city, even though Lily does ultimately find that she wants a long term future with Will. 

Kennedy is a honest and witty writer, creating believable, flawed but likable characters, and subverting some of the cliches of this genre.