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Grace was just a teenager when she fell for Jimi and was devastated when he left her broken-hearted. Fast forward thirteen years and both their lives have changed a lot. Jimi is preparing to put his playboy past behind him and get married to Kylie, while Grace is also engaged (to Spencer) but is frustrated with her fiance's lack of interest in setting a wedding date. When their lives intersect once again, Grace goes through a multitude of emotions - indifference, hurt, anger etc. but is your first love really that easy to escape?
I took to Grace straight away and emphasised with the fact that Spencer didn't seem to see fit to go any further than engagement, although his viewpoint isn't put forward as explanation or counter argument for the majority of the book so it's a bit of a one-sided sympathy if you like but still, I liked her. Jimi could have been a really irritating character with his womanizing past but we're introduced to him after he's committed to settling down and without giving away too many plot spoilers, he comes back down to earth with a rather hard bump not far into proceedings so he's also got sympathy on his side. Of the more minor supporting characters, there is Grace's best friend, Rhian, who strongly believes in soulmates but isn't having any luck finding hers; and Grace's friend and colleague, Maggie, whose world is sent spinning when she's given some bad news. Both of these women are quite strong - particularly Maggie, who is a very tough cookie - in contrast to Grace, who has more of a tendency to fall apart when something goes wrong.
It's written in the third person and the narrative mostly focuses on Grace and Jimi, with some attention diverted onto Rhian and Maggie. Although it's not a first person narrative, there's plenty of opportunity to gauge their thoughts and feelings. It's written in a very informal style - what you'd probably call chick lit style - and is very easy to get into. It's by no means a taxing read and there are no real twists and turns to speak of but it's a nice, light read that would probably work well as a holiday read. I've read a few of Alexandra Potter's books now (Calling Romeo and Who's That Girl?) and I'd say that this is my least favourite of those. That's not to say that it's a bad book but I didn't enjoy it as much.
Do You Come Here Often was first published in march 2004 by Back Swan, it was then re-published in January 2010 by Hodder, with a new cover more in keeping with the floral chick lit design of her more recent novels also published by Hodder.
Alexandra Potter is a British born author who now lives and works in L.A. She has worked as a features editor and sub-editor for women's magazines in the U.K and now writes full time.
Grace has been with fiancé Spencer for a long time; with no mention of marriage they have dropped into a routine that, while being comfortable, seems to be going nowhere.
Jimi's well on his way to being married, in fact the wedding is only a week away when he bumps into Grace again. Suddenly things just don't feel right anymore.
Rhian is Graces long time friend. She is a single parent and fed up of being alone and decides its time to hunt for the perfect man.
Weaved through the story is a radio show called Do you come Here often? This is a late night radio show for lonely hearts hosted by a man called Dr Cupid. His aim is to help his listeners find love.
The book is well written and I really enjoyed reading it. The book begins with a Prologue that gains more relevance nearer to the end of the book as the story line develops and you learn more of the characters. I'm not sure if I enjoy this snippet at the start of a book that belongs to nearer the end of the book. A lot of authors have started doing this (twilight saga starts each book with a snippet from near the end) and quite often it only serves to confuse me as I don't realise what I am reading is to do with later in the book till after I've finished the book.
The radio show weaves throughout the book and brings the characters together at a crucial point. At first I did not understand the relevance of the radio show and thought it was a pointless bit of waffle but it all comes together nicely.
The characters are really well written and it is easy to love them. Certain points of the book are written from the point of view of Jimi and then from the point of view of Grace, it is interesting to see how two people can go through an event together but put a completely different twist on it.
The book has also has some chapters that are written as flash backs to the eighties when Jimi and Grace were just finishing school. These are really enjoyable.
I really enjoyed the parts with Rhian she is such a likable and believable character. I would of enjoyed the book just as much, maybe even a little bit more if Rhian had of been the main character.
As with virtually all chick lit books all the characters have really good jobs Spencer is a solicitor, Grace works for a international art and design company, Jimi is a freelance travel writer, Rhian was a make up artist before she had a child, but they are all still dissatisfied with there lives. I guess the book would not work as well if Grace worked in the local Morrisons and Spencer was a self-employed window cleaner and they were happily married with two kids. Nobody wants a real life story.
While still being quite light hearted the book touches on the subjects of Alcoholism and Cancer in the sub plots. This does not detract from the book but I also think it does not really add to the book either.
Overall I must say that I enjoyed this book. I did find it quite hard to get into at the beginning but by Chapter four I was really enjoying the story. I enjoyed all the sub-plots and devoured the book in a couple of days.
If you enjoy a good light hearted read then this is the book for you, throw it in your suitcase and read it by the pool.
I give this book four out of five Dooyoo stars as it's an enjoyable read but not up there with the best chick lit authors. (In my opinion Cecilia Ahern, Marian Keyes) I'm keeping an eye on this author as I think she will continue to improve, and any books I come across I'll have a read.
I paid fifty pence for this from my local car boot sale but it can also be purchased from www.amazon.com for £2.75 used or£3.86 new.
Thank you for reading x