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Picking up books of the 'women's fiction' genre is always something that should be done with caution- with the same old 'feminine' packaging showing something between a working woman and a caring mother, they're almost always about sex, marriage, 'love', or something equally sexist. Webb's good, as a result, is a breath of fresh air. Yes, it does highlight the themes listed above, but there's something about its honesty and the fact it's highly down to earth that makes it relatable and believable. The best thing about 'It Had To Be You' is the setting- a small Irish town hosts the novel, and the whole place seems so cosy and calming, that even if, like me, you read it on a sunny Meditteranean holiday, it still feels like you're sitting in a cosy coffee house with big brown sofas. For a women's book of these themes to create such a positively adverse effect shows Webb to be doing something right.
Sarah Webb is an Irish author responsible for many offerings in the world of chick-lit, including Always the Bridesmaid and Some Kind of Wonderful. I have read a few of her previous works with mixed reactions - she writes the stories with passion for her characters, but I've found that some of her novels take a little while to get into.
It had To Be You is the story of three woman from the small Irish village of Burnaby. Molly works in the local bookshop 'Happily Ever After', but has her own aspirations of writing a bestselling novel - something that will never happen if she continues to keep her work a secret. Molly's best friend Paige is running as an independent candidate in the local elections. She is well on the way to fulfilling a lifelong ambition, but can she juggle a young and demanding family with her work, especially when a fellow candidate is out to sabotage her every move. Kate is Molly's new housemate, she's a nice enough girl but obviously has a lot of baggage that she refuses to talk about. Will the latest client for her dating service prove to be the answer to all her problems or is he just too much for her?
I really enjoyed It Had To Be You, which was pleasantly surprising I have to say. I'd read another of Sarah Webb's books just before it and whilst I thought that one was good, I did find that it took too long to get into. This one was much better and I started to enjoy it straight away. I think one of the reasons for this was that there were three main characters, each with their own particular stories, which meant that it was like reading three books in one. It also meant that the story had to get going straight away in order to fit everything in. The book started off with an introductory chapter about each character, then they all merged together to create the main part of the book before a chapter was dedicated to each of them at the end. I thought this bookended (excuse the pun) the story nicely.
The three main characters were all very likeable and were fun to read about. They are close friends and so link the three parts of the story together nicely. Each of them had various love interests that were also well written and formed very good sub-characters. Each of the three ladies also had an amount of 'baggage' that added interest to the story, but that didn't make it frustrating to read, as can be the case with this type of book.
Sarah Webb worked in a children's bookshop before she became a novelist and she uses this as a baseline for many of her books. This one is no exception and her passion for the bookshop shines through in this story again. She writes well about little close knit villages, like Burnaby here, and has an excellent ability to make you really feel like you are in the story.
I would highly recommend this story as a nice way to fill the hours, especially if you are sitting in the sun - it is a great summer read and a fun read for any bookworms out there!