When the going gets tough Freya Johnson gets going! Humiliated by her boyfriend the day she turns 30, Freya boards a last minute flight to Corfu to visit her best friend Emma. Little does she know that this holiday will change her life forever. Enter Hollywood film star Nicholas Kaden whose entourage is stirring up the village of Kassiopi while filming his new movie. Caught up in a media frenzy, feeling unwelcome and uncomfortable in Nicholas' movie world, Freya battles with the ghosts of her past and the uncertainty of her future. Can she help Emma? Can she keep her own big secret? And can she find out what Nicholas is hiding before she feels the urge to run away again?
Mandy Baggot is an unsigned author who published her novel on YouWriteNow.com, a website that allows unsigned authors to print copies of their own books and hopefully garner interest from literary agents and big name publishing houses. I was a bit concerned by the dark cover, it didn't look that attractive and I think it doesn't do any justice to the book at all. I'm terrible for judging a book by its cover, so I am glad I didn't in this case. I was really impressed with this book, and I am surprised that Mandy hasn't been snapped up by a publishing house yet, this is just as good as many chick lit books I have read, and better than a few as well!
The book is set on the gorgeous island of Corfu, and it's a lovely setting for the book. What I adore about a book is one that takes you away on its journey with you, and Excess All Areas certainly does that. I loved how Mandy described the setting so well, you could imagine everything that Freya was seeing from the small local restaurant her best friend works at, to the local jewellery shop and the isolated places that she visits on her trips with Nicholas. I loved the fact I could close my eyes and that the book took me away to these places very easily, I found the book so easy to pick up and get absorbed in.
The characters are all very well written and believable people. Freya is our leading lady, and she has a bit of a secret about her. If I'm honest, I had no clue about this throughout the book and I'm not going to say anymore as I don't want to spoil it for people who haven't read but I didn't see it coming at all, and I love the fact Baggot managed to keep it from her readers. Freya's really likeable, and I love her attitude around movie star Nicholas too. Nicholas is definitely the man we're supposed to love in the book, he seems almost a bit too good to be true but I loved that about him as there is a real fairytale element about the storyline between him and Freya.
While the book is a light-hearted tale set in Corfu, it does have its darker moments as well and I think Baggot has tackled these really well. I think the storyline she brings in involving Nicholas is very well placed in the book, and it is great to see an issue like this being brought up in women's fiction as it is not something usually mentioned. I also enjoyed the storyline with Freya in the middle of the book about her secret, it was tough to read in parts but makes her current character make sense. This is what I very much enjoyed about the book - it was quite funny and sweet, then it dived into something different when you least expect it and it really kept me hooked and wanting more.
This is a great chick lit book by an unsigned author, and if Mandy Baggot carries on writing at this level, then I can't see it will be too long before a publisher snaps her up! It really is worthy of a book deal, the writing is fluid and easy to read, the characters are well developed and likeable, and most importantly, the story reels you in and you want to keep reading more to see how it is all going to end! I stayed up until 1am finishing this because I was desperate to see how things would pan out for Freya, and that's the sign of a good book for me - I just don't want to put it down. I loved it, and hope that Mandy soon gets the praise and recognition she deserves for a great book.
ISBN: 978-1849230186. Published in December 2008 by YouWriteOn. Pages: 336.
Review written for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.