“ Author: Annie Sanders / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 07 July 2011 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Famous Last Words / ISBN 13: 9781409117186 / ISBN 10: 1409117186 / Alternative EAN: 9781409112761 „
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Lucy Streeter has always been reasonably happy but she would never have described her life as exciting. However, when a virtual stranger tells her she only has a few days to live she starts to look back on her life with regret. There are so many things that she wishes that she could have done but now it's too late. Or is it?
The author Annie Sanders is in fact not one person but two. Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders have combined their writing skills in order to produce some highly entertaining novels such as Famous Last Words. This is a book that is both witty and thoughtful and I enjoyed it immensely from the moment I started reading.
The story centres on Lucy Streeter who is a very ordinary woman leading a very ordinary life. She is quite happy running her designer clothes shop and being mother to her grown up son Nat. However, one evening her life is thrown into turmoil after meeting Micah, a fortune teller, who kindly informs her that she only has a few more days to live. Normally, Lucy would dismiss this as absolute rubbish, but unfortunately too many of his other predictions seem to be coming true so she has to sit up and take notice. As she does, she comes to the sad realisation that she has not made the most of her life and there are many things that she should or could have done.
Once she has got over the initial shock though, Lucy starts to see this 'death sentence' as surprisingly liberating and sets about making up for lost time. This includes a complete makeover, telling a few people what she actually thinks and tackling the nasty new landlord who has taken over the leases of hers and her friends' shops and is raising the rent dramatically. Lucy manages to reinvent herself in a few short days and although many of her friends are quite startled by her actions she finds that she likes her new self very much. It's just such a shame that her last day is rapidly approaching. Which it does, and then it passes and Lucy realises that she is actually still alive.
You would think that she would be relieved but instead she is mortified remembering all the things she has said and done thinking that she would not be seeing certain people again. There follows, with Micah's help, a race against time to try and set things right especially before certain people realise. But at the end of the day, does she really want to do that? After all, this is the new Lucy now, the one that speaks her mind and sticks up for what she believes in!
Famous last Words is a wonderfully entertaining book written in a warm and witty style. The story moves along at a good pace that kept my interest from start to finish. It is told in the first person with Lucy as narrator, so you know from the first moments that she has not really died. Because Lucy is telling her own story though, you do really feel like you get to know her and can definitely sympathise with how she feels. She is a very engaging character too and it is brilliant to see how she changes and also her friends' and family's reactions to her.
Although it is essentially a humourous read it does invite the reader to be a little reflective too. I couldn't help thinking about the things I had or had not done with my life and wondering how I would choose to spend my last few days too. I would hope that I would follow Lucy's example of throwing caution to the wind and making the most of every minute which is what she does in a highly entertaining manner.
Although at times the story is a bit farfetched it is hugely enjoyable and just right for a little bit of easy escapism.
The book in larger size paperback version is currently available on Amazon for £7.74.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk.
Lucy Streeter thought she had her life pretty sussed out. She runs a clothes shop, where she also gets to show off her own designs that she does in her own spare time, she's mum to her grown up son Nat who is at University, and she gets on really well with the other occupants of Paradise Street, where their shops are based. However, Lucy decides to pay a visit to a fortune teller one day, and finds out a bit of shocking news... she has just days to live. Lucy is horrified that her time on Earth is nearly up, and makes some radical decision and changes that the old Lucy never would have done. Is Lucy going to be able to make the most of her last few days with her family and friends, or is it just too little, too late?
I have read quite a few of Annie Sanders' novels in the past and really enjoyed them, so I was really looking forward to getting around to this one. I have to admit I wasn't too keen on the cover when it was released but in real life, it doesn't look quite as dull as the pictures online make it look. What I love about Annie Sanders' novels are the realism - you can always count on characters that you recognise or can imagine being friends with, and that is exactly what I hoped I would get from this novel once more. So here's my review!
The leading lady Lucy is a great character, and I liked her straight away. She's a single mum to a grown up son who is at University, and seems at a bit of a loss as to what to do with herself now he's grown up and flown the nest. Lucy is a talented designer but prefers to sell other people's wares in her clothes shop, a point that did make me think "why would you not try and push your own designs?" but as the story progresses, we do see why. Lucy is a really normal woman, she's certainly someone I can imagine liking and she seems like your average housewife which is nice. However, we soon see a new side to Lucy once she learns of her impending demise, and this is where the main bulk of the story comes in.
The character of Micah wasn't one that I liked enormously if I am honest. I especially disliked him at the end when it all becomes clear about him and his predictions because I really don't like that sort of things within books, and it seemed like Sanders was plugging into the magical element of books that has done well for authors such as Cecelia Ahern, but it seemed totally out of place in this book. It was a real shame because I had loved the book up until now, and thought it was a great story about someone reinventing themselves but the magical part really let it down for me and turned from a great book into something a bit silly and unbelievable which was a real pity.
The story of people reinventing themselves has been done before, but I really enjoyed the twist Sanders put on it that Lucy knew she was going to die, and therefore wanted to do everything she normally wouldn't have the guts to do. It certainly makes you begin to think what would you get up to if you knew you only had a few days left on Earth, and you can sympathise with Lucy along the way too because you can see how much it is hurting her at the thought of leaving her son behind, but the things that come out of it are well worth reading about. What I really love was how it wasn't just the physical things Lucy had to change, and it's enjoyable to see this character come out of her shell.
Overall, this is a really enjoyable book and would definitely have been a superb one had they not brought in the silly ending that they did, which for me spoilt the rest of the tone of the book for me. I was actually guessing that Micah's character was going to force the book to go one way, and it seemed so out of place in an otherwise brilliantly grounded read that it really spoilt the ending for me, and I was left quite disappointed. I don't know why authors think that everyone wants something "magical" and "fantastical" in their books, because we don't! We know which authors to go to when we want that and I just felt it out of place in an otherwise fantastic read.
ISBN: 978-1409112761. Published by Orion in August 2010. Pages: 288. RRP: £12.99
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.