Every young girl dreams of meeting Prince Charming. But what if the prince turns into the frog instead of the other way around? Diana Kay is thirty years old, single and pregnant. A glamorous socialite, she has just landed her dream job on TV as a dating guru. But how can she advise women on their struggling love lives when she's hiding a secret pregnancy? And why has the baby's father, who swore he'd love her forever, decided instead to vanish off the face of the earth? Terrified of losing her television job, Diana watches her bump grow bigger by the day. How long can she keep pretending she's developed a sudden fondness for jam doughnuts? When it all becomes too much she flees to the West of Ireland in search of peace and privacy. Instead she stumbles on a dark family secret. Diana soon forgets her own personal turmoil as she delves into the past. But is it really a good idea to resurrect a shocking scandal that has been so firmly swept under the family carpet?
The first Marisa Mackle novel I read was Confessions of an Air Hostess in 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, it was witty but it also had a lot of depth. I then read Chinese Whispers, and again I thought it was another great read. I then ventured to one of Marisa's earlier novels Mr Right For The Night, and she definitely became an author to look out for. There's still a few of her novels I haven't read (which I hope to rectify) and I was pleased to hear she had landed a book deal with Poolbeg for two novels and I was looking forward to the first of that deal Along Came A Stork. The bright blue cover is rather eye-catching, but, unfortunately the content isn't so much.
First off I'd like to say that I'm not a mother. I'm only 21 and I must admit, I don't at this moment in time see myself having kids. Who knows, that might change. And I must also admit that baby books can go one of two ways for me. If they're too baby heavy I generally don't like them (Babymoon, Positively Yours), but if it's done well and in a humorous way there's a good chance I'll love them (Shopaholic & Baby, Something Blue). It depends on the tone of the novel, how focused the novel is on babies and Along Came A Stork is in the former category. It just felt too much. I truly didn't need to hear Diana whinging constantly about how crap her life was now she was pregnant. Sure, becoming pregnant changes your life, that's a given, but the way Diana makes it sound it's as if her life is ending. And to prove the point, once everyone finds out, instead of staying and facing the music, she flees to the West of Ireland like a teenager (despite the fact she's thirty).
I mean I just couldn't take to Diana. The synopsis heralds her as a socialite but I don't know many socialites who live with their parents and thirty and have no money. A socialite is someone who's rich and famous and Diana quite frankly was neither. I just found her to be really unbelievable. I just couldn't believe that anybody would act like her in the real world. Because the book is written like a diary, I just couldn't take to it. Diana refers to her diary as Molly, which, again, made me think she was a helpless teenager. I just found the entire story to be lacking. If you're going to write a novel diary-style you need to give your heroine some oomph and personality. Diana was dead as a doornail. She couldn't carry the story and she wasn't consistent. Diana finds out some old family secrets, relating to pregnancies back when it was practically illegal for unwed girls to have a baby but it just seemed to be there to give the plot substance. It didn't enhance the plot because there wasn't enough made of it. Diana goes from writing in her diary about it, but then we don't hear from it again as she waffles on about waiting hours for her antenatal appointments.
I was seriously disappointed in the characterisation. Everyone was so wooden. Diana, like I've already said, didn't inspire me at all. I thought her family were even worse. How a family can all live in the same house (Diana, her mother and father and sister Jayne) yet not get on was ridiculous. Their conversations were wooden and stilted and it was borderline ridiculous. None of it seemed real. None of the characters seemed to care for each other. I mean Diana is so childish that instead of telling her parents and sister she's pregnant, she just waits for them to guess and then gets irritated when they don't. This was a girl in serious need of a reality check. I mean, she can't believe how Roger the man who got her pregnant could just leave her like he did! She couldn't believe she'd chosen him as her babydaddy. You know what Jeremy Kyle would be saying. If she didn't want to end up pregnant she should have used protection. It wasn't as if it was an immaculate conception! She was there! It happened!
I must admit, I cannot believe this is the same author who gave me Confessions of an Air Hostess. There was no humour, no warmth, I am really shocked. And I must admit the writing was surprising at best. I know the Irish had their writing ways (being "in" work instead of being "at" work and adding "so" to the end of their sentences) but there were a few clunky sentences in the book ("And just I sat wordlessly" which should have been "And I just sat wordlessly" and "I'll be asking the doctor for every painkiller there is going" when it should have been "I'll be asking the doctor for every painkiller going". Then Diana says she may have to renegade on having botox when she means she'll have to renege on having botox. I know they're just small things and most people might not pick up on them, but I'm a very critical reader and I spot errors like that. I pick up on them, and they drive me crazy. Those clunky sentences made me cringe because somebody should have picked up on them. It ruins the flow of the book for me. I just felt so disappointed in Along Came A Stork. The writing was horrible, the characters seemed wooden and I just wasn't feeling the diary-style way in which it was written. I won't rush out to buy Marisa's next novel, and instead I think I'll just pick up her earlier novels as the new book was just devoid of anything, which makes me so sad. I hate slating a book, particularly when it's an author I enjoy because I don't want to offend but I seriously didn't like this book.