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I picked up this book in a bargain bookstore - more for the cover truthfully - but once I started to read it the story just flowed along naturally. The story centres around a character called Scarlett who lived her life through the movies but was bored with her non-movie life and had begun to doubt her impending nuptials. Securing a house sitting job in Notting Hill for a month, Scarlett decides to give herself time to think about what she really wants.
Whilst in Notting Hill she appears to be living in a film set - walking past THAT blue door, bumping into someone who pours his drink on you, finding yourself in THAT bookshop - you get the message?
Truthfully this is never going to set the literary world alight but if, like me, you like chick flicks, you will spot every movie reference before it is signposted to you and will enjoy the detective nature of the game. Furthermore it is an easy read with a satisfactory ending - one that leaves you with an ahhhh! That can't be bad for a book!
From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is Ali McNamara's first novel. As you can probably guess from the title, the book has a strong movie theme and is very likely to appeal to film fans, especially those who love 'chick flicks'. With a heroine who dreams of life being move like her favourite films, and mainly set in Notting Hill, this is a fun packed story that provides comfortable easy reading.
Scarlett loves the movies; in fact that you could easily say that she is obsessed with them, much to the exasperation of her father, her fiancé David and her friends. She can't help dreaming and wishing that her life was more like the films that she loves. So, when the opportunity arises to house sit for a month in Notting Hill (the setting of her favourite film), she grabs it. It's a chance to prove to all those sceptics that life can be like the movies and also for her to examine her feelings about her feelings about her forthcoming marriage to David.
As soon as she arrives, Scarlett is enthralled especially when she browses in that bookshop and then bumps into a man who spills orange juice over her top and insists that she goes back to his house so that he can lend her something to change into! If you haven't seen Notting Hill it's likely you won't understand what I'm talking about, and that probably goes for much of the book too. There are five or six films that strongly influence the story and if you haven't seen them, there is a great deal that will be lost on you.
Scarlett loves being in Notting Hill and starts to really enjoy her time out. However, she is quite taken aback by her feelings when she gets to know her new next door neighbour, Sean who is the exact opposite to David. In fact, she starts to feel a lot like Bridget Jones, torn between Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver.
So many things happen to Scarlett during her month's stay in Notting Hill, including a Star Wars themed wedding, a trip to Disneyland Paris, and even finding her long lost mother in the local cinema. At times, the story feels a bit too far-fetched especially as Scarlett seems determined to transform everything that happens into a movie moment.
When I started reading From Notting Hill with Love...Actually, I wasn't at all sure that I was going to enjoy it. It all felt a bit silly and I found Scarlett's desperation to prove that life could be like films very annoying. I stuck with it though and I'm very glad that I did because, having got over those initial thoughts, I found that it was a really good story that hooked me in and made me want to keep on reading to find out how it all turns out in the end.
I thought that Scarlett improved as a character too, especially as when her real life became more interesting, she was noticeably less obsessed with the films. There was a point at about halfway through the book when I decided that I did really like her after all and that's how I want to feel about any main character in the books that I read. I should also mention that there is a very entertaining cast of minor characters who really added to my enjoyment too.
Overall, this book does make pretty good reading but I would only recommend it if you know your Mark Darcys from your Daniel Cleavers and wouldn't think twice about asking someone that you have never met to meet you at the top of the Eiffel Tower!
The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £4.39 (March 2011).
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
This is a review of the 2010 book 'From Notting Hill with Love... actually' by Ali McNamara (her first novel). The front cover of the book is quite appealing of a big cinema front and nice silver sparkly snowdrops. I got it as a swap on read it swap it as I had picked it up (and put it down) in the book shop already. I wasn't sure whether I fancied reading it or not but decided to give it a go.
A bit about the book
The book follows popcorn machine seller and fixer (what a job!) Scarlett as she faces a sort of mid life crisis. About to get married to the boring David (sounds like more of a business deal with his company of cinemas) and wondering just who her mother is (she left her as a baby) Scarlett heads off to house sit a glamourous Notting Hill house for a month to sort out her head, with her father and fiance's blessing. In London she quickly makes friends with fashion shop owner 'outrageous Oscar' and his pal Ursula who turns out to be the sister of her grumpy next door neighbour the sexy Sean Bond (licenced to thrill).
What's with the films?
Scarlett is obsessed with films, mainly chick flicks like Notting Hill, Bridget Jones, Love Actually etc, and can't stop comparing her life with them. Especially when she finds Sean and David fighting over her like Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones.
Aside from the constant film daydreaming, Scarlett manages to bump into some of her film heroes in London and Paris (Johnny Depp being one of them) and is totally star struck and comes out with some corking lines. I won't say the others as I don't want to spoil it but she just seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Some of her dogeddness to recreat film scenes gets a bit tiresome in this book, and it certainly won't make sense if you haven't seen (and slightly obsessed) over these films yourself. They are mainly popular culture ones like 'when harry met sally' and 'Notting Hill' so it's not too taxing but it does form a main part of the story line.
At the end of the book there is a quiz, and also a nice little map and guide to London so you can tread in Scarlett's footsteps and visit some of the film scenes that are mentioned. I don't think I'll bother but it was a nice extra in the book for someone who has really enjoyed reading about it.
I couldn't decide whether I loved or loathed this book, I found myself reading it compulsively but I think that was just to get it finished. Some of the chapters were great like when they go to Disneyland Paris (a place I've never been but would like to go) and some were a bit contrived. I think this was a good enough read but not one I can rave about really, so three out of five stars from me.
My recent book which I have just finished reading was something which I cannot compare to any other book which I have read before. I changed my opinion of this book so many times whilst I was reading it as I will tell you further into the review. This is a new author Ali McNamara, From Notting Hill With Love..... Actually is her first published book.
Our main character Scarlett loves the movies, or as her loved ones would say "has a silly obsession" with the movies! Her life revolves around the movies with her job involving popcorn machines at the cinema which gives a good excuse for her to just pop in and watch the most recent film release! Everything that happens around Scarlett she compares to a film scene, and people around her she will compare them to actors and actresses. This is causing problems for Scarlett and her husband to be David. David and her farther suggests she goes away for a break for the few weeks before their wedding to put these silly thoughts aside, but all Scarlett has in mind is to prove that whilst she is away in Notting Hill is to prove that life can be exactly like a movie. Thing is Notting Hill seems to shacking Scarlett's life up with the help of her new next door neighbour Sean.
After weeks house sitting in Notting Hill will Scarlett return home and be able to put the obsession of comparing life to the movies and marry David or is Scarlett's life turning in a different direction?
SCARLETT:- It takes a few chapters to actually understand Scarlett as a person and to connect with her. She comes across as very immature and in her own little world. In the first half of the book I have to say I found her pretty annoying. As the book paces on her character develops you start to see a sweet vulnerable young woman who is trying to make everyone else happy but in the process is not actually making herself happy.
David:- I did not warm to this character from the word go. He seems boring and controlling. I was glad that once Scarlett went to Notting Hill he didn't appear much in the book until the end, but I think this is how the character was meant to come across.
Sean:- We see a character change in Sean when we first meet him he seems very aggressive and rude but as his friendship with Scarlett grows we see a completely different side to him he is really a very caring, considerate and generous man. I would say he was my favourite character of the book.
I am really undecided on this book as there were parts of the book which I really didn't like and other parts which I really enjoyed which is a first for me. I felt like I was reading two different stories but in one book. This is going to be hard to explain without you reading this book so please bear with me. As I have said before Scarlett has a love of the movies and through this book everything that happens is constantly compared to one movie or another. At first this was fine but this continued all the way through the book and about half way through I was ready to give up as I was starting to get tired of the constant comparisons, I felt like it was smothering the true storyline. I would say every page, if not every other, has some reference to a film. This can be hard in some places for some people as a few times a certain film was mentioned which I haven't seen so I didn't quite understand what was going on in the story.
Ok that is my negative out of the way. It was a shame because underneath the "smothering" is quite a beautiful little storyline. Once you actually started to get into the underlying storyline the book was actually a joy to read. I would say the story started to become enjoyable from chapter 13 so if you are going to give this book a try do bare with it as it does improve. Ali has managed to bring a fresh style of writing in this book but I just think it was slightly over done in my own opinion. The chemistry she creates between Scarlett and Sean is wonderful and you do find yourself hoping that something will bring these two characters together. I loved the fact that right up until the last chapter the reader didn't know if Scarlett was going to marry David, so the suspense element which the author creates is brilliant as I do like this in a book it does keep you gripped and in my opinion I think this is what saved this book.