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Maddy Harvey's teenage years weren't kind to her - not content with wearing NHS glasses, having wonky teeth and slightly dodgy hair things weren't looking good. None of this compares though to that one fateful day when her older sister April was killed. Run down in cold blood in a hit and run, 17 year old Dennis Mckinnon ruined many lives that evening when he killed poor April, but who would think 11 years later his terrible mistake would ruin two star crossed lovers lives..?
**My thoughts on the book**
My best friend is a huge fan of Jill Mansell books, as I've mentioned in previous reviews, and subsequently since discovering her love for her books last year she has been keeping me in a steady stream of reading material ever since. My most recent batch of books consisted of this - 'Falling For You' - along with a few others including 'To The Moon And Back' (see separate review). I have just finished reading both books whilst on holiday and here I'll be discussing my thoughts on 'Falling For You' whilst it's still relatively fresh in my memory.
I started reading Falling For You almost minutes after completing 'To The Moon And Back' which I thoroughly enjoyed, and whilst the latter focuses on bereavement I was hoping for something a little more light hearted afterwards with this book. Having perused the blurb on the back I noticed the story was to be centred around the death of a teenager and it's devastating aftermath on the two families involved but hoped it wouldn't be too depressingly written. At first I thought it may feel inferior in comparison to The Moon And Back though after reading the blurb on the back I had to admit I was quite intrigued with it's teasing story line.
I liked how the story kicks off where the main character Maddy Harvey is first introduced to us and where she meets handsome stranger Kerr McKinnon at a party one Summer's evening. I found the fact that neither seemed to know who each other was at first unrealistic (yes it is fiction I know!) given that both families were so greatly intertwined through tragedy but nevertheless I was intrigued how the story would continue to pan out knowing it was now Romeo and Juliet themed.
Once the recognition becomes apparent the story does start to pick up pace and gradually we start to meet more characters, some of whom become quite strong throughout and end up with their own quite prominent storylines. Maddy's step mother Marcella, her brother Jake, his daughter Sophie and the family dog Bean start to feature more and slowly we start to learn about their backgrounds which all ties together through Maddy. I instantly liked Jake and Marcella but for some reason I found 7 year old Sophie to be rather annoying for the majority of the book but didn't let it deter me from reading and enjoying the story.
Falling For You is based in Ashcombe near Bath and we get to meet Dexter and Nuala who run the local pub The Fallen Angel. I liked the cheeky banter between these two characters and having worked in pubs for many years myself it was written very true to life and I found I could easily relate. Dexter's character becomes more defined as the story goes on and I found myself liking him more and more whilst Nuala was mediocre towards the end of the book I felt.
One character that becomes quite prominent is Kate Taylor-Trent. I wanted to dislike her from the word go as she was described as being a bit of a bitch who got her comeuppance in the end but I liked her. She didn't exude any warmth and wasn't likable in a frothy way which is why I liked her as she wasn't too 'nice' like some characters are and I think she made the story more realistic (well as realistic as chick lit can be). I liked the way Kate evolved throughout the book though didn't suddenly become 'Miss Niceness' from 'Miss Stuck Up Cow' which is what could have easily happened.
The story itself started off okay before drifting into a slight tedious patch with it's continual references to the couple who want to be together but can't and I started to think it may become boring after a few chapters of the same forlorn desires but luckily I was very wrong. I found certain 2 dimensional characters suddenly became more prominent and really stood out with their own quite big stories which kept me hooked, and there were some genuinely unexpected twists that I honestly didn't see coming.
I really liked this book but more so once it got going as it did slightly drag it's heels after the initial introduction of Maddy and Kerr. Maddy was a nice enough character, as was Kerr, but I felt their own story fitted in then faded into the background amongst the other residents of Ashcombe who's lives seemed far more colourful and exciting. I was rooting for the two to get together but lost interest at one point and luckily this is where the other characters seemed to up their game and keep me interested thankfully. Kate kept me interested throughout and her (un)conventual family life had me quite on edge towards the end of the story as both her parents and their lodger Will led far more colourful lives than I had previously thought at the beginning and they were all engaging enough to keep me enthralled as to what would happen.
There were some characters that were present from the beginning who just didn't seem to make their mark as much as they could have done with Juliet - Maddy's boss - being one of them. Although she features frequently throughout I found her to be a little bland, and even though their was a 'shocker' of a revelation at one point I still didn't feel it to warrant so much of the time taken up and became increasingly impatient whilst reading it, willing it to jump to some other characters story on numerous occasions.
I did actually enjoy this book but much more so nearer to the end of the story. I found the beginning seemed to drag slightly and didn't pick up until halfway through (for me anyway), though as the book progressed towards the finale I was genuinely hooked and wanted to know how all the story lines would intertwine.
I found this book to be very readable but I'm not sure I would want to read it again in the future as I didn't feel passionately about the characters or story to want to rediscover it all over again, unlike some other Jill Mansell books which I just know I will read again. That said it was actually very good at keeping you guessing once the story took hold and I found one particular twist really unexpected and made the book seem much more worthwhile the effort in the end.
At 438 pages long this is a nice length for perhaps a holiday though because it took me a while to get into initially it seemed almost double the amount of pages as I seemed to be reading it for ages. The cover has a 'trademark' Jill Mansell design of soft tones and soothing sketches related to certain parts of the book with an image of Maddy's family dog Bean appearing here.
A nice enough read that takes some getting into but once the story takes hold it's very worthwhile, though I can't see myself wanting to read it again I am glad I at least read it once.
Not the best of Mansell books but certainly above average and because it turned into a riveting read in the end it still gets 4/5 from me.
Published in 2003 by Headline Publishing
The irresistible new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author.