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Alice Brown is a matchmaking working for the Table for Two dating agency. She is never happier than when she is helping clients meet their perfect match and she always believes in happy ending. Unfortunately, not everyone in the dating world is as idealistic and caring as Alice, making it a wonder that she ever survives in the cut-throat world of dating agencies. The only thing missing in Alice's love is a little romance of her own though. Somehow, although she can find love for others, it always seems to elude her. Will that always be the way things are and why doesn't she sometimes take her own advice?
'Alice Brown's Lessons in the Curious Art of Dating', by Eleanor Prescott, is a very enjoyable and light-hearted look at the world of dating agencies. Table for Two is a thriving agency run Audrey Cracknell and her team including Alice who is most successful at setting up dates leading to lasting love. There is nothing more exciting that receiving gold written wedding invitations from former clients. There's also fierce competition from the other dating agencies in town especially Love Birds run by Audrey's arch rival, Sheryl Toogood. Then of course, there's the annal Matchmakers' ball - the highlight of the year but also the place to be seen and score points. There's a great deal of fun and lots of romance too. This book is pure escapism.
I found it really delightful reading about the wonderful cast of characters found in this story. There's lovely Alice, a matchmaker with a heart of gold, who seems to find it impossible to meet someone to love herself. Maybe it's because she wears fluffy cardigans, rides an old fashioned bike and prefers gardening to night clubs or maybe she has yet to find a man that appreciates such things. Next there's Kate who joins Table for Two because her life plan is not working out. She's approaching thirty five with no sign of the husband and two children that should be part of her life by now. Is this the route to her lasting happiness? Her friend Lou is the complete opposite, pouring scorn on Kate's romantic notions seeming to prefer one night stands that require no commitment. But is that truly what she wants? Owner, Audrey, seems to have it all, with a successful agency and a dashing husband. However, things are never as they seem and it's possible that Audrey's seemingly perfect world is about to crumble.
These and other great characters all contribute to some very enjoyable, funny and intriguing storylines that will leave you wanting more. I liked the way that each chapter focused on a different character as that provided much variety within the overlapping stories. I also liked the way that, although at times there was a slight mockery of the dating industry, the author never made fun of the types of people who would look for a partner in this way. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish and hardly wanted to put it down. In fact, I read its five hundred pages in just over two days as I found it quite compulsive reading. It's probably because I can't resist a bit of romance and I'm always hopeful for a happy ending.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Looking for love? Call in the expert. Alice Brown is a matchmaker extraordinaire. She has never, ever failed to find her clients the man of their dreams, and she doesn't intend to start now. As she tells her clients: Life's more exciting when you let yourself be surprised. But Alice's latest client Kate is proving her biggest challenge yet. Kate is a on a mission: she wants the perfect man. Trouble is, Kate could find fault with George Clooney and reject Johnny Depp. Will Kate be the first client for whom Alice fails to find love? Truth is, Alice has failed once before - she is the one person who remains resolutely single. In helping Kate, will she finally learn to take her own advice too?
This is one debut novel I have been curious about for a while. Ever since I saw it on Amazon, I thought it sounded like quite a good idea, and I liked the cute green cover, it was certainly different and stood out to me compared to the normal chick lit covers we see. This is author Eleanor Prescott's debut novel, and I was wondering if she would be another great face in the chick lit world, I always love reading new authors as there is often a few gems in there somewhere so I eagerly looked forward to reading this one.
The book tells the story of dating agent worker Alice Brown, who is determined to find true love for each of her clients. She really believes that there is someone out there for everyone, and puts her all into her matches, trying to make sure that they meet someone they will be compatible with. However, her boss isn't quite as honest as Alice is, trying to hang on to the male clients by matching them with unsuitable women to keep them on her books, oh and her marriage to John isn't quite all she makes it out to be either. Alice's latest client Kate also believes in true love, but doesn't fancy going out every night to meet a man. Despite mocking from her best friend, she moves along with the plan andi s unsure after a few poor dates. But will Kate meet her Mr Right? And is Alice ever going to be lucky in love herself?
I have to confess that when I started reading the book, I was a lttle disappointed as it felt a bit slow, and I found it hard to get into it. I decided to persevere and carry on with it, but I did feel like I had to push myself to pick the book uprather than wanting to pick it up at every opportunity which how I like to feel about my books! As the book progressed and I got a little bit more into the story, I enjoyed a little bit more, but still found it went a bit slowly for me, and I wished things would happen a little quicker as I did guess who Alice would end up with, and I sorted want her and him just to get a move on with things a little bit! I did enjoy the dating agency aspects of the book, they were quite readable and it was fun to read about all the girls that worked there, and their rivalry with Stella from another agency who made me laugh, and I wished there was more of these scenes!
Alice was okay as a lead character, but I did find her a little dull to read about after a while. Yes, she's got a good heart and wants the best for everyone, but that didn't mean she was fun to read about unfortunately. I was a little bit fooled by the blurb as well as it makes out that Kate is the other main character in the book, but I found her not to be, and was just a minor character really. In fact, the other main character was Audrey, Alice's boss at the dating agency. In some ways, I actually preferred her story over Alice's because it was really interesting, and although it too was a bit slow-burning I wanted to see how it would pan out, and I ended up feeling a bit sorry for her, she was just a naive old lady really. Kate's story, however, was made up of a few dates, and then what happened after those dates and that was it. She wasn't particularly fun, or good to read about, and I found myself wanting to skip over her parts a little bit, especially as her dates progressed a bit more. I couldn't stand her best friend either, and don't see what she added to the book at all.
Overall, I have to say I found this book a bit disappointing, and wasn't the fun story I had hoped for before I began the book. It felt like it took me ages to read compared to others I have read this year because I really couldn't get into it enough and didn't get that feeling of wanting to read it all the time which was a shame. If you fancy something a little more slow-paced, then this might be the book for you, but I just couldn't get myself into it as I had hoped. It had a good cast and good potential, but something didn't click for me. For a debut novel, this by far isn't the worst I have ever read, in fact the writing is quite good, and I enjoyed the way the chapters alternated in terms of narrator so was kept quite fresh and allowed us a good insight into all the characters and their thoughts and feelings, but for me, the more negative bits outweighed the good for me, and so the book gets 3 stars from me!
ISBN: 978-0857387141. Published by Quercus on 12th April 2012. Pages: 448. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.