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If This is Paradise, I Want My Money Back - Claudia Carroll

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Claudia Carroll / Paperback / 400 Pages / Book is published 2010-01-07 by Transworld Ireland

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    2 Reviews
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      08.07.2012 00:32
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      Loved it!

      Charlotte is in a coma after a car crash and is hovering midway between life and death. She soon finds herself being given the role of an "angel" assigned to look after a living person. And it just so happens that she's to be an angel to none other than James Kane, her ex-boyfriend. It's fair to say that they didn't exactly part on good terms before the accident and Charlotte relishes the chance to make his life hell, as he did to her. Let the fun and games begin!

      I really liked Charlotte from the word go and the chatty, conversational, first person narrative makes it hard not to warm to her as it's almost like we're inside her head with her. James is a not very likeable character who didn't treat Charlotte very well in life and it's not hard to see why she's loving the opportunity to get back at him in death. Some of the scenes that play out between the two are really quite amusing and I did laugh out loud at a few of them. Very briefly, I felt a smidgen of sympathy for him as Charlotte really went to town on causing chaos for him but that was brief indeed as for the most part, it was just amusing given his behaviour.

      As well as being an 'angel' to James, Charlotte also flits about between Kate (her sister) and Fiona (her best friend) in a bid to change their lives for the better. The interaction here isn't as great as with James as her 'powers' are more limited and this is more heartfelt than funny - a nice touch to break up the scenes with James and add more interesting sub-plots to the main story. Both are in a relatively bad place at the time of Charlotte's accident, with Fiona being unhappily single and frantically trying online dating and Kate in a not-so-perfect marriage to Perfect Paul (as Charlotte has always called him). They're good characters though and I was as interested in them as I was Charlotte herself, which isn't always the case with lesser characters.

      I really liked this book on the whole. It was perfect chick lit - light and fluffy with some amusing aspects and Charlotte is a great character to weave it all together. If you've previously enjoyed books by Claudia Carroll, I'm sure you'd love this one too.

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        05.10.2010 21:58
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        A good read!

        Charlotte Grey has been the victim of a horrific road accident and is lying in hospital seriously ill in a coma. It has taken an incident as huge as this for her to take stock of her life and realise that she's made a complete mess of her 28 years on Earth, including the five years she's spent dating the arrogant James Kane.

        Charlotte finds herself in the 'big room in the sky' and is not too impressed! It resembles a retirement home with too much Bingo and Bridge - hardly the place for a 28 year old in her prime! So when Charlotte is offered the chance to return to Earth as an Angel she jumps at it. However, as you'd expect, there's a catch. She's been assigned to watch over a certain Mr James Kane! And this is where the fun really begins - just because she's passed on doesn't mean she's moved on.

        My thoughts

        I don't normally go for the classic chick lit but thought this seemed like a fun read so checked it out of my local library. I warmed to Charlotte straight away. She's witty, boisterous, highly opinionated and headstrong but it's also apparent that she has a soft side and cares for her family and friends deeply. The story follows the days immediately after Charlotte's accident and focuses on of course James, but also Kate, Charlotte's elder sister and Fiona her best friend.

        I found her post-accident relationship with James hilarious. James is an arrogant know-it-all and I took an instant dislike to him. Whatever did Charlotte see in him? Charlotte is fuming at him, and believes the accident was partly his fault as it happened when Charlotte stormed out of a blazing row at their home. So when she realises that James can hear her she decides it's time for some payback. James doesn't know what's hit him - he can hear her voice but doesn't see her so begins to lose the plot. Charlotte has great fun with this and has no problems in giving him a piece of her mind over a period of a few days. However the power goes to her head a bit, leading to some quite serious consequences and towards the end I felt my sympathies edging towards James.

        Much of the book is also focussed on Fiona, Charlotte's best friend. Fiona has been unlucky in love and is on the lookout for 'Mr Right'. She meets someone online but Charlotte disapproves, as she is certain Fiona's ex, who has just ended a relationship, is perfect for her. Although she can't talk to Fiona in the same way as James, Charlotte doesn't let this stop her! She finds that she can enter into Fiona's dreams and tries to influence her decisions there, with disastrous consequences!

        When Charlotte first enters the 'big room in the sky' she meets her father who passed away a few years earlier. Charlotte is obviously very confused but her father lovingly reassures her and explains what's going on. This piece was so well written and I found it incredibly moving. She also meets relatives that she's never met in real life who are excited to meet her and explain that they have been watching over her, her whole life. I thought this was such a lovely idea and very sweet.

        Here we see the softer side to Charlotte's character and this is also alluded to when her mother is mentioned. Charlotte is quite happy meddling in her friend Fiona's life and also James' but whenever she pops over to see her mother she is saddened to see the effect her accident has had on her. So much so that she can't bear to visit her mother very often. We also see into the life of Charlotte's older sister Kate, who is married to 'Perfect Paul', only Charlotte learns that he is not so perfect and their relationship is quite strained which breaks her heart.
        The ending was a bit inevitable but I still felt satisfied once I'd finished.

        The style of writing was quite light-hearted and very easy to read. In fact I read most of the book in the space of a few hours, waiting at the airport and on a flight to Nice. I did find myself chuckling out loud in places so it may be something you want to consider if reading in a public place! Overall I really enjoyed this. I've just read a couple of reviews on the authors other works and will be looking out for these in the future. Recommended!

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