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I am a big lover of reading chick lit though for a while due to financial constraints I haven't bought any new books nor had time to get to the library to borrow any. Luckily for me, my friend has a 'book circle' at her work who pass books around to one another when read and she kindly included me as a 'special guest' (honoured!)
This is where I came across Jill Mansell. Having been aware of this author I had yet to sample any of her work, so when I read Perfect Timing just before Christmas last year and thoroughly enjoyed it I was keen to read more books by her. When my friend dropped this latest book off for me - Kiss- and said it was just as enjoyable as Perfect Timing I was very eager to start reading it and have just finished the book.
Brief plot synopsis & Characters:
Izzy is a club singer waiting for her big break - she will be famous one day she is sure of it..it's just not quite happened yet. She lives with her 17 year old daughter Katerina and juggles a hectic life of robbing Peter to pay Paul with her wages from singing in seedy clubs, not to mention the fact that she has two boyfriends so life is certainly never dull. When an unexpected collision (literally) with Gina occurs both of their lives mingle and life for both will never be the same again..
Kiss features several main characters but the key character is called Izzy and we meet her almost immediately. The whole book revolves around Izzy at first, then the other characters that are introduced throughout the story all intertwine in Izzy's life. Gina's back story comes to light quite early on in the book and we learn that on the ill fated night that she meets Izzy (meets? well knocks her off her motorbike leaving her with a broken leg!) her husband of several years has announced he is leaving her to live with his pregnant mistress so Gina comes across as very fragile at first and the complete opposite to Izzy, who is confident and full of optimism.
Katerina is not the average teenager and is far more the adult out of her and her mum, so when she meets someone from Gina's life she does something very unexpected that not only shocks everyone but something that Izzy finds unforgivable.
Sam is a main character who is also introduced early on and is a mutual friend of Gina and her love rat of a husband Andrew. He is described as being a bit of a playboy yet in a good way, being achingly handsome and the owner of a string of successful nightclubs. There is an obvious frisson between Sam and Izzy but will they get together? Throw in Gina's philandering husband, an OTT pop star and Sam's american ex girlfriend who always gets what she wants and you have one fantastic read..
My thoughts on the book:
I really enjoyed Perfect Timing so when my friend said she thought this was far better, I was slightly cynical at first admittedly, but really I have to agree on every aspect. On reading the first few pages I noticed it was easy to become absorbed in the characters almost instantly and the story just flowed from page to page. I am currently reading a book at the moment (not a Jill Mansell book may I add) that I am finding difficult to get into and I can honestly say with Kiss this wasn't the case at all.
I really liked all of the characters involved and in their own way they all brought a little piece of enjoyment to the story, I even liked the side story of Gina's husband Andrew as we see that maybe the grass isn't always greener and I was interested enough just in that one story line to see what happened to him in the end.
I thought all of the characters were entertaining and enjoyed how their own lives intertwined and became the main story line towards the end of the book. At first there seemed to be more and more characters being thrown in throughout the book and I was at first getting a bit confused trying to keep track of who was who, though this soon all became clear as their characters all became vital to the story line and there wasn't anyone that I took a liking to.
I loved the character of Izzy and just found the situations she landed herself in were so obscure but I loved her 'get on with it' attitude each and every time and actually found her uplifting attitude a refreshing change from some heroines. There were so many cringe worthy situations and on several occasions I found myself laughing out loud whilst reading this (much to the annoyance of my hubby who was asleep at the time).
There really isn't anything not to like about this book - even down to the soft and soothing images on the front cover which for some reason depict a Christmas theme (baubles, snowflakes, a robin etc). As tranquil as it appears the front cover does confuse me somewhat as there is only the smallest reference to the festive period at one point so if anyone sees the book they may be swayed into thinking it is set at Christmas time which it isn't.
This is an enjoyable read that I found flowed easy enough from page to page and I found it hard to put the book down on an evening it was so engrossing. Having only read one other of Mansell's work I was pleasantly surprised at how much more I did actually enjoy this and think it would make an ideal holiday read as it's easy to lose yourself in Izzy's hectic world.
This was first published in 1993 though it didn't seem remotely dated at any point and could easily have been set now. The font is bold and large (well not too big) and is clear enough making it easy to read and at just 503 pages long I would highly recommend it.
Jill Mansell, I feel, is your ultimate in chick lit. Though I do have issues with her writing as it does appear that all her books follow the same storyline and pattern with similar characters. However she is very very easy to read, no thinking involved, and great to help just clear your mind!
**Setting the Scene**
Kiss is described as "Classy Chick-Lit that appeals to women of all ages" (Daily Express), and it certainly lives up to this expectation.
As with many of Mansell's books the story revolves around 3 strong women characters; Izzy, who is going to be famous one day, just as soon as the music industry discovers her and her dazzling talent, but until then leads a marvellously chaotic, fun life; Kat, Izzy's long suffering sensible daughter, who is studying hard for her a-levels and organising her mothers life; and Gina, the loving wife who's life falls apart when her husbands runs off with his pregnant mistress. Their worlds collide when Gina, quite literally, collides with Izzy and accidentally knocks her off her motobike thus breaking her leg, somehow following all of this Izzy and Kat end up moving in with Gina and that is where the story really begins....
The story is based around the three women described above and how their lives intertwine with one another and how they cope living in the house together. In true chick-lit style we see various love interests enter the story, most of them tall, dark, handsome and funny. No one is left out, with you seeing each of the characters develop a romantic interest, some wildly unsuitable, some blaringly obvious that it makes you shout at the book and wonder when they are going to open their eyes and others quietly growing in the background until you suddenly realise whats happening.
I love the way that Mansell grows her characters through the book, and how you go from active disdain to really routing for different characters. There are very human elements within this book, and you find yourself identifying with different parts of each character, as well as secretly desiring to be more like some characters, for example, I would love to have Izzy's confidence and don't care attitude, but I also know what its like to be saving for the gas bill and having much more fun blowing the funds on a really decadent meal!
Light hearted and amusing, bits had me giggling out loud, but Mansell is not afraid to tackle weightier issues and the book is a little darker, and somewhat depressing towards the end, before morphing back into traditional chick lit and that happy ending!
Another complaint I found is that the ending is somewhat abrupt, everything is "boxed off" nicely, but too neatly, and it does make me think - hang on a second, real life isn't like that. Which is a shame, especially as Mansell injects such humanity into her characters, whether they are in a leading role or supporting cast, you feel empathy with them, to have such a lack lustre, flat finish spoils the ending.
Izzy von Asch - the dizzy, lovable, chaotic lead, who will one day be famous. There is so much of Izzy that I found to empathise with, she is a character with a zest for life that at times makes you wish you were more like her, and at times makes you cringe! I feel that most people will be able to see part of themself in Izzy, which only serves to grip you more and wish her well.
Kat von Asch - the hardworking scholar. Very much a case of still waters run deep. I found myself liking Kat initially but then being very wary and untrusting of her as the book developed, going in full circle to liking her once the book closed!
Gina Lawrence - an annoying, downtrodden, "poor me" wife. She will make you scream with rage as she weeps and wails through the beginning of the book, I just wanted to take her and scream at her, the best thing is that you see other characters doing this for you which made me think "yes thats exactly what I would say", as you watch Gina become stronger without the need to lean on her husband
Supporting cast - a strong character base, with supporting characters who compliment the three main characters and all bring out sides to their characters that may not have been seen without the help of the supporting characters, for example you see a variety of sides brought out in Gina from her relationship with her husband from utter despair to being stronger and not letting anyone trample over her!
A very easy to read book, that requires little to no brain power! The character development is wonderful and really makes you feel as though they are your friends. Descriptive narrative really sets the scene and a wonderful style of writing.
My bug bears are that if you've read one Jill Mansell you can tell what will happen in the book which leaves little room for twists and turns, you will know who ends up with who and what happens. But generally, when I read this (and others!) it is because it is so easy to read that I don't really mind predicting what comes next!
Looking for a nice easy read I came across Jill Mansell's "Kiss", described as "classy chick-lit that appeals to women of all ages" I thought it fitted the bill. I paid £7.99 for this in Waterstones but I suspect it can probably be picked up for less on Amazon.
After reading the first few pages I was hooked, wanting to read more and find out how Izzy and her friends sorted their lives out.
Izzy is a 30ish single mother to Kat who is 17 and studying hard for her A levels. Izzy relies on her daughter to organise her life while she is busy trying to become famous as a singer. Kat is used to being moved from home to home, surviving on very little money and juggling Izzy's 2 boyfriends so that they don't find out about each other. However, what Izzy lacks in organisation and normal mothering skills she makes up for by giving Kat loads of love and making life good with her irrepressible sense of fun.
We are then introduced to Gina whose life collapses when her husband runs off with his pregnant mistress. It is due to this event that Gina and Izzy literally bump into each other ending up with Izzy suffering a broken leg and being unable to work either in her day time job or her evening job singing.
The story follows what happens as Izzy and Gina's worlds collide. Their lives until then had been completely different, Gina is very organised and has led quite a naive lifestyle. Izzy on the other hand is completely disorganised and would rather be having fun than paying bills or taking life seriously.
There are, of course, some handsome men to add interest to the story. However, the path of true love never runs smoothly either in chick lit or real life and there are lots of twists and turns before everything is settled at the end of the book.
Although it isn't difficult to work out who ends up with whom, this doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the book and I found myself urging the characters on to declare their love for each other and sort their lives out. However, there were enough turns in the plot to add just enough uncertainty in my mind in order to keep me reading.
I started off feeling a bit irritated by Gina as she seemed a little pathetic in her outlook to life but warmed to her after Izzy shows her how to relax a bit with her laid back attitude to life. Izzy 's character is delightful, she is a warm and bubbly person who can be a loyal friend. Kat at 17 sometimes seems more grown up than Izzy and is surprisingly well adjusted despite her unusual upbringing.
This is a funny, witty and yet poignant book showing how people's lives can change in a moment sometimes for the worse but quite often for the better and how our lives are all intertwined. It just needs a chance meeting to initiate a life changing moment that has repercussions to many people. New friendships can be formed and lives can be influenced by these new friendships. In some ways this book is more than chicklit as underneath the froth and humour there are important messages for us all. How to appreciate good friends, never give up on your dreams and how we should all live life to the full as you never know when it may change.
I really enjoyed this book and will be looking out for more of Jill Mansell's novels.
It has to be said, and after reading at least 4 other of her optical offerings I consider that I'm in a position to say it, that Jill Mansell is a bloody good author. Ok, so she probably won't be winning any literary awards. And I very much doubt that she'll be going down in history as one of the 'greats', [although, what I consider great and what the rest of the literary world consider great are very much different anyway!] But still, in the sea of modern romance novels that grace our, and bookshop shelves, she can 'float' with and often ?swim above? the best of them! 'Company' magazine and their 'freebie' department can be attributed for my liking of Mansell offerings. Why, if it wasn't for them, I sincerely doubt that I would even know who Jill Mansell is let alone know that she's an author! Thanx Company! Anyhoo, after reading, and being impressed with her other books, if I see one on offer, or on the shelves just begging for me to buy them ...... well, who am I to disappoint ...... I buy them ;) And on a trip to Tescos on one occasion, well, lets just say, there were a couple [or three ;)] of books I didn't disappoint that day!! Huh .... do we really need food when we have books? : ) Anyhoo, I digress ... First published in 1993 by Bantam Press and then by Headline in 2000. For some reason it has taken 7 years [yep, I can count] to make the change from hard to paper back. Don't ask me why? I dunno. But anyway, mine is not to reason why, merely to point out such facts if there are those of you that feel better for knowing such information. I wonder if there are? This is the first Mansell book cover that I've come across without the presence of an 'Andrex pup' gracing the front page. Still, there's no complete lack of the animal variety. This time we have a cat. Why? Again I don't know. There's no cause for the feline feature. There
ain't any moggies in the story. Dogs ..... yes. Cats ..... no! The blurb, as always on a Mansell cover is detailed and delivers. You know what you'll be gittin'!! Guess you'll be wanting to know what it's all about then yes? Well ..... read on my dear friends ... [or enemies depending on how you rate this? ;)] Issy is a singer. As of yet an undiscovered Superstar on a motorbike. Gina is a spurned wife. The reject of a marriage where the husband has just left in order to move in with his younger and pregnant secretary. Gina is in a car. Put them both together and what do you get? I'll tell you what ...... Another warm, entertaining, if slightly predictable tale of broken legs, unrequited love, interfering but comical cleaners and over bearing and over sexed Latin pop stars. A case of ooh la la and gor blimey gov?nor!! After the two worlds of the main characters [and they pretty much stay the focus throughout the story] collide, quite literally, the two very different lives of Issy and Gina continue to entwine bringing with them tales of sorrow, tales of laughter and tales of friendship. The story is pretty much run of the mill. There are no 'gob stopping' incidences that leave you with your mouth hanging unattractively open when you stumble across them realising that you never saw it coming. No spine tingling events to leave you clinging to the edge of your seat and closing your eyes is fright. And no hot torrid love scenes that will ether make you blush, grab the nearest man, or take a cold shower. Basic really. Man and woman meet. Man and woman fall in love. But as always, on TV, in songs, in the written word, in life in general, the path of true love runs far from smooth. And as we trundle along pot ridden roads of love triangles, pride, stubbornness and bad timing, you .... me ... the reader just knows that all will be well in the end. A newly laid tarmac road
at the end of the dirt track tale ..... predictability rears it's oh so evident head.. Maybe 'run of the mill' does not quite give 'Kiss' all the credit that this delightful little book deserves? Ok, so there are a few mitigating factors that would bundle this book, this author into the pile of romantic pap that grace the shelves of book shops around the country. In deed the world, 365~24/7, but there is also the main factor that this book, this author can and does tell a good story. She takes all the basic ingredients, mixes em up, adds a little here and there and prepares a feast fit for the reader who is wanting a light hearted, easy readable and entertaining meal of the written word. Mansell's style doesn't vary too much. In fact, from the previous four that I've read, it hasn't changed at all. But to be honest, .... and why would I lie .... it doesn't matter. Her style works. There are no big words to leave you reaching for the dictionary and scratching your head in wonderment. The stories tell tales of people like me, people like you. People we know and people we love. The people live pretty much ordinary lives, we can identify with the characters on some, or in cases on all levels. If you 'do' light-hearted, amusing and entertaining when it comes to reading material, this really is the book for you. Or rather, this author is. Her offerings are pure 'beach and babe books' [they might, but I'm doubting that she would, appeal to the guys?] If you are wanting more than the typical love story, wanting big words and hidden meanings, I'd bypass this author on the shelves. She's not for you. As with the previous novels of hers that I've read, this went straight to the shelves of idodoyou. There was no hovering over the big box by the bed that has its contents earmarked for car boots or charity shop and labelled as crap. There were no sighs of exaspe
ration as I closed the last page feeling hard done by. This is a keeper. And has joined it's sisters on the shelf. There they sit, waiting for the next member of their family to join the already groaning plank of wood. This book is totally readable. .... Now, I wonder what?s 'free' in this months company?? : ) PUBLISHED : Bantam Press PRICE : R.R.P £5.99 or £3.84 Tescos PAGES : 503 ISBN : 9 9999 8654 4
Well-heeled Gina knocks Izzy off her motorcycle and sets in motion a series of events that neither woman could have imagined. Feeling sorry for Izzy, Gina takes her and her daughter in, leading Izzy into a love affair with Sam.