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Life Swap - Jane Green

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Author: Jane Green / Genre: Fiction

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    13 Reviews
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      10.10.2010 15:30
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      When I was browsing through books on amazon, this one caught my eye and upon further reading I decided that I had to have because the concept sounded really good, I like books where the characters are put in different situations, such as time travel or life swap!

      The book is about two women, Vicky and Jane who are both feeling rather unfulfilled with their lives: Vicky seems to have everything and is living the life of the single girl in London with a great job as the features editor of Poise! Magazine, while Amber is living the suburban life in the Connecticut with the husband and kids, but feels like there is something missing in her life. Is the grass really greener on the other side or do they need something else in their lives.

      When Vicky mentions this to her boss, she has the idea of advertising a 'life swap' in the magazine, where Vicky swaps lives with a married woman and to see what life is like on the other side, they swap everything - houses, clothes, jobs, friends, etc.
      I did enjoy this book although it wasn't quite as good as I thought that it would be.

      The character development was a good bit of the book, they were both really well explained and had a lot of depth - which gave a lot to the story because of the fact that the book was about characters lives and how they changed in different situations. I think that I preferred Vicky because Amber was a bit vain and seemed to like spending her husband's money just a bit too much!

      I liked her writing style as it was quite informal and made for a good, easy read but the story didn't seem to be split up very evenly - she took too long getting into the book and the actual swap didn't take place until halfway into the book which I didn't think was very good, so I'll deduct a dooyoo star for this!

      I got mine from amazon used, with the postage fulfilled for around £1.50

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        27.09.2010 01:19
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        A relaxed book that's easy to read.

        Life Swap is a number one best seller from author Jane Green. Just from the opening of the cover you are greeted with a whole load of appraisals for the book from various magazines and newspapers including, Heat, Independent, Company, Sunday Times, Cosmopolitan plus many more.

        You don't really pick up anything from the cover of the book, it's pink with a cat and a dog, the authors name, and of course the book title. The back like most gives you a little insight into the story without giving to much away. I was lucky enough to pick this book up in a local second hand store for just 20p, but the RRP of this book is £6.99.

        The story is based around two women, who's lives are totally different and then they do a Life Swap.

        Vicky is the features editor for Poise! magazine, she lives in London, has a hectic social life but wants the whole husband and family package.
        Amber lives in America and has the whole package, but she feels there's something missing.

        Poise! magazine run a feature and Vicky is put forward to do a life swap. After a bit of searching they find Amber. The swap is to last a month!

        It reminds me somewhat of a dramatised version of Channel 4's Wife swap!

        I like Jane Green's writing style, it's quite relaxed and chatty, which made the book rather relaxed and enjoyable to read.

        It did seem to take forever to get to the life swap part which happens around the middle of the book, but this does mean we get to know the characters.

        Like I said I did find it an enjoyable read and will definatly be on the lookout for other titles by Jane Green. This book is 464 pages long.

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        12.08.2010 19:21
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        An enjoyable chick-lit

        I love reading but never seem to have time. I was determined to read a book whilst I'm off Uni over the summer and this is the one that I picked up and read. Having read one of Jane Green's other books, The Beach House, and enjoyed it, I was looking forward to reading this.

        Vicky Townsley is 35 years old and works for London's Poise! magazine but longs to get married and have children, just like her brother Andy who lives with his wife and children in the English countryside. During a chat with the Poise editor Vicky mentions that she would love to swap lives with someone. The editor thinks this would make a great feature for the magazine so they arrange to get the life swap advert published in the next issue of Poise. The life swap involves swapping lives with a married woman for a month.

        On the other side of the Atlantic, lives Amber Winslow, her husband Richard and their two children. They live in a huge house with it's own swimming pool in the suburbs, with a live in nanny for the children and staff coming in to do their cleaning/gardening. Amber spends her days as part of the League, a group of wives who raise money for charity but who's main purpose is for the women to see who can be the best dressed and show off who has the most money. From the outside it looks like Amber and Richard have the perfect life but Amber feels that there is something missing. One day Richard brings home a copy of British magazine Poise for Amber and she sees the advert for Life Swap so decides to write in...

        After searching through lots of applicants Vicky decides that the woman with whom she would like to swap lives is Amber, so they make the appropriate arrangements for this to take place.

        Is the grass really greener on the other side? Is it easy to step into another woman's life for a month? Will Amber and Vicky find the answers they are looking for?

        ~ What did I think? ~

        I really enjoyed this book as it was an interesting story and was well written. The author writes about each character in turn and I felt I got to know them quite well. I felt the pace of the book was good and it picked up as it went along. The actual life swap didn't take place until about half way through the book but I think this worked well because it allowed the characters to be developed.

        Amber and Vicky are the main characters in the book but we do get to know some of the other people in each of their lives and they are all described well. Although I enjoyed the book, I could not really relate to either of the characters much as one of them is a married woman living in America and the other is a 35 year old career woman. The writing did make me like them though and I wanted to know how the Life Swap was going to affect each of the women and the people around them.

        I think that the idea of a life swap is quite interesting although I don't think it is something that I would ever want to do. Once I reached the end of the story I did find myself thinking about my own life and how I shouldn't take anything for granted and be happy what I have.

        The book is well written and the story flows well. It took me a little while to get into it as I didn't have much time for reading when I first started reading it and as each chapter was initially about separate characters I would pick the book up and not know what was going on. I almost gave up with it but I decided to sit down and read a couple of chapters at once I got into quite quickly and I then started reading a chapter each night before bed. Towards the end of the book I was looking forward to bed time when I could find out more about the story!

        Overall, this is an enjoyable chick-lit novel which I would recommend if you want a light-hearted read over the summer. It captures humour, romance and family life and is written in a very readable way.

        * Paperback: 480 pages
        * ISBN-10: 0141021721
        * Publisher: Penguin
        Life Swap is currently available to buy from Amazon for £4.78. I bought mine from Asda in the 3 for £10 range a few weeks ago.

        Thanks for reading!

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          10.11.2009 13:51
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          Not really worth the time it takes to read

          Several years ago I fell in love with a Jane Green book called Mr Maybe. It was funny, the characters were great, the story was well written, and the hero sounded pretty damn lovely. Ever since I've continued picking up Jane Green books in the hope that one would match Mr Maybe, but none did. The latest attempt was Life Swap.

          Life Swap tells the story of single 35 year old Vicky Townsley, Features Editor of a women's glossy who lives in London with her cat. She yearns for married life, believing the grass is greener.

          For a magazine feature Vicky swaps lives with Amber, an American "desperate housewife" who is married with two kids and lives in the New York commuter belt. Amber is happy in her marriage and loves her children, but feels something is missing from her life.

          The story of Life Swap is good, but hardly original - although I can't think of anything it is similar to, I knew the outcome before the women even swapped lives. I knew the part each male character would play as soon as he was introduced, and I knew exactly what would happen to Amber, her family and her life (and I do mean exactly).

          Life Swap is writing in the third person, and switches between Vicky and Amber's stories, with occasional excursions to other characters. This set up worked well, but what I didn't like was the fact that the novel is written in the present tense. For some reason this has annoyed me since the first book I read in the present tense (I still remember what it was even 15 years later, although I can't remember the title). Perhaps this is simply down to personal taste, or perhaps it is to do with liking the familiar - most novels are written in the past, i.e. characters looking back on events, and so perhaps I prefer that style which is more common.

          The characters themselves are quite predictable for a chick lit novel. Vicky is a typical single girl, alternately confident and a wreck, while Amber tries to keep up with all the other wives in town in terms of fashion and interior design - but of course as she is a heroine in a chick lit novel she is not shallow, and unlike the other wives she doesn't like the scene.

          The men are also typical. Vicky has unsuitable boyfriends she dreams are perfect, she has a friendly "neighbourhood shag", she has a happily married (younger) brother who has the perfect family. When possible Mr Rights enter the novel they may as well have a sign on their forehead, they're that easy to spot.

          Yet again, I picked this up hoping for more of the magic I got from Mr Maybe, and yet again I was disappointed. I didn't dislike Life Swap, but it was far from a scintillating read. Don't go out of your way to read this, but if you spot it on the library shelf like I did, it's an ok read. Or you could bypass it and pick up Mr Maybe, or leave Jane Green altogether and try Lisa Jewell.

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            01.05.2009 11:37
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            A good summer read - I enjoyed it!

            At the moment, I'm in the process of re-reading a lot of my old books to decide what to keep, what to attempt to sell on Amazon Marketplace and what to take to the charity shop. This might mean a few reviews from me on books that have been out for a few years, instead of focusing on new releases, but I guess it doesn't matter when a book was written, just whether I enjoyed it or not.

            'Life Swap' by Jane Green was originally published in 2005 and I have the large-format airport edition so it was obviously a pre-holiday purchase. I couldn't really remember much about it from the first time I read it - I remembered the basic storyline but was very hazy on the details, so I decided to re-read it this week.

            The story centres on the lives of two main female characters, one living in London and one living in Connecticut, USA. Vicky is a London-based journalist working on 'Poise' magazine (which I think is loosely based on 'Red' magazine). She is in her mid-30s and single, with no serious long-term relationship on the horizon. All her friends have settled down, got married and had children and she is envious of the lives that they lead. In contrast, Amber lives in a Connecticut town which is populated by the families of Wall Street bankers - they have a massive house, lots of money, two beautiful children and seemingly the perfect lifestyle. However, despite all her material possessions, Amber feels that there is something missing... in the attempt to fit in with the lifestyle of the wealthy and competitive Wall Street wives, she has lost her own sense of her identity.

            The magazine that Vicky works for decides to run a story about a life swap, where Vicky has to swap lives with another woman for a month. This is a familiar theme for those who watch 'Wife Swap' on Channel 4, although in this situation the two women have to immerse themselves completely in the other woman's life, right down to wearing all their clothes (they do get to keep their own underwear though!) and they don't get the opportunity to implement their own rules in the second week. After Amber's husband brings home an import copy of 'Poise' magazine, she decides to apply for the life swap hoping it will answer the questions that she has about her life. For Vicky, the life swap promises the opportunity to see if she really wants the life she feels that she is missing out on - whether life as a wife and mother is as good as she believes it will be. So, is the grass always greener on the other side?

            The two main characters in this book were well developed and easy to relate to. I preferred Vicky out of the two women as she was more instantly likeable - she seemed like a normal 30-something women with normal issues and insecurities. I did like the character of Amber as well, although there was something a bit more irritating about her. The supporting characters were also well written and you did get some insight into the lives of both women through their interaction with others. It was interesting to read the way that Jane Green made her characters interact with each other's friends and family, and the way in which their relationships develop in their different circumstances.

            The book had some funny moments and some more serious, thought-provoking ones. It is essentially a light holiday read, but it does make you think a bit at times. I think it's easy for us all to think that other people have the perfect lives if they've got something that we believe we want for ourselves (money, children, 'perfect' husbands, a stunning house with a swimming pool in the garden) but sometimes what you do have doesn't make you truly happy. That is the underlying message of this book and I think it makes for a good story.

            Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is a chick-lit novel which is perfect for a bit of escapism, and it is a bit predictable in places, but I thought it was well-written and fast-paced enough to keep me turning the pages. I found the characters absorbing and was able to sympathise with them both at times which I think is important for me when reading this type of book - if I don't like the main character, and don't feel that I can relate to them, I tend to lose interest fairly quickly. If you haven't already read this, I'd recommend it as a summer holiday read.

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              21.02.2009 19:38
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              Will swapping lives really make you happier?

              I love this book and would definitely recommend it to others. I sometimes find Jane Green's books to be a bit hit-and-miss in that I love some (like this and The Other Woman) but am not so keen on others (like Bookends). However, I thought this was a fantastic read.

              The Plot
              The two main characters in the book are Vicky and Amber. Vicky works for Poise! magazine (which is your typical womens' magazine) and lives a glamourous life in London. However, she is not really that happen with her life. When her magazine decides to run a feature in which two women swap lives for a month, Vicky puts herself forward as one of the candidates. After reviewing the many applications, Amber emerges as the other participant. She lives an enviable life in Connecticut (USA) with her family but can't help feeling that there is something still missing in her life.

              The book follows Vicky and Amber as they literally swap lives for the month. Vicky moves into Amber's house in Connecticut with Amber's family, while Amber experiences Vicky's single life in London. How do they get on, and will they find that the grass is not always as green as it seems from the other side?

              The Characters
              I found both Vicky and Amber to be realistic and believable characters. Amber's life is a little bit of reminescent of Desperate Housewives and the like, but she herself is not overly pretentious (although several of the people with whom she mixes in Connecticut are quite annoying!). Given that both women are yearning for that something that they feel will make their lives complete, I think quite a few readers will be able to emphasise with them.

              The Writing Style
              The writing style is pretty informal, as you will often find in chick-lit style books. It is written in the third person, which enables you to feel as though you are watching Vicky and Amber's lives from afar, rather than being in the thick of the action (so to speak).

              Would I Recommend This?
              From my opening paragraph, you've probably gathered that I really liked this book. Both Vicky and Amber were interesting characters that I had no trouble "getting into", even though I can't really relate to either of their lives. I really wanted to keep reading to see how both characters would feel when they returned to their normal lives, and whether the swap would lead them to make any changes to this.

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                14.12.2008 12:28
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                This book came out a couple of years ago and it is one of my favourite books. The author Jane green has done quite a few books.

                So what 's the book about? Well as the title suggests it is about swapping lives.

                The book focuses on 2 women

                Amber Winslow. She lives in Connecticut America. She has a nice suburban life, the couple of kids and the caring husband. It's all good, but a bit boring. Every day is the same. Get up sort things for the kids and husband, then do housework and take care of all the shopping etc. when the family comes home it's all about looking after then again and so every day is the same goundhog day. surely ther's more to life than this?

                Vicky Townsley, She is a features editor at Poise Magazine in London. She's single, independent, career driven and very, very sucessful. She would swap it all for marriage, childen and the typical settled life style.

                How the swap comes about is that the magazine that Vicky works for runs this competition and the only rules is that it must be 1 married woman swaps with 1 single woman, so Vicky working there gets to know about the competiton and puts herself forward for it. Poise is a magazine that Amber reads in America and looking for a change and adventure herself, she writes a letter to see if she wins.

                They both win, so each woman has to go live in the other womans house and live their life, so Amber swaps the sunshine and stability for rainy, cold London and Vicky swaps dreary life on her own to having an instant family.

                So is the single life better than the married one? I'd love to tell you more about the book, but don't want to give any of it away. Lets just say that Amber and Vicky get a lot of surprises along the way and when temptation comes along will Amber accept it?

                This book has 463 pages and did cost £6.99. I doubt you could get this in all book shops now due to the age of it, but Amazon sells this at from £3 upwards and this can include postage.

                A great, thoughtful and often humourous read. Once I started reading this, I found it hard to put down

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                  24.10.2008 18:32
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                  An excellent read!

                  The moment I picked up Life Swap and started reading it I really loved it. From the very first page Jane Green writes in a lovely chatty style which really draws the reader in - and she tells a good story too!

                  Life Swap is about two women who, for various resons, are just a bit dissatisfied with their lives. Vicky has an excellent career as the features editor of Poise! magazine and a busy social life but she yearns for marriage and children. On the other hand, Amber, who lives in Connecticut, has the children, husband and gorgeous house but she knows that something is missing.

                  For a feature in Poise! Vicky suggests that she might find a married woman to swap lives with for a month and after a lot of searching, that woman turns out to be Amber. The book goes through fom the search for an ideal swap to the actual swap itself and beyond. As a consequence, both woman do discover a lot about themselves including the fact that the grass is not always greener on the other side!

                  This is such an enjoyable absorbing read that drew me in on a number of levels. Firstly I loved the idea of the story which I guess is a bit of Wife Swap that is shown on Channel 4 mixed in with Desperate Housewives! It was interesting to be shown what it was in the women's lives that attracted them to the swap and it does make you wonder whether you would be tempted if you were given the opportunity. I don't think I would but when the married Amber was reflecting on her life from afar it did make me think a bit about the aspects of my own life that I take for granted! I do think that the idea of stepping outside one's own life for a little bit does have its attractions.

                  The story was written well and alternated between focussing on each of the two women in turn. I liked this aspect and it definitely kept my interest. There were some funny moments as well as some poignant ones and I think I would describe it as a funny, moving novel.

                  I really liked both of the main characters and they both seemed to grow and develop as the novel progressed. As they did so I really started to care about what happened to them - something that is always the mark of a good read. There were loads of other really strong characters too including Amber's somewhat bemused husband and her two mainly well behaved children.

                  I really enjoyed the chatty relaxed style of the writing which made this book a very comfortable read. Sometimes I like to challenge myself a bit with my reading whereas at other times I just don't want to have to work to hard. Reading Life Swap was a joy! My one small criticism would be that I felt tht it took just a litle too long to get to the swap ahich in fcat occurred about halfway through!

                  There were also some quite amusing glimpses into various aspects of their lives. I liked the bits that showed the life of a busy journalist, but what particularly compelled me was reading about the League that Amber belonged to. It's main function was charity fund raising but it's real purpose was to see how all these well off haousewives could outdo each other in what they wore, how they catered and how they decorated their homes. They were a very unappealing bunch!

                  Overall I found this book to be an excellent read. I read its 470 pages quite quickly partly because it was easy and also because it was such a good story and I wanted to find out how it all turned out!

                  At the moment you can buy the paperback on Amazon for £5.49!

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                    08.09.2008 19:43
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                    Life Swap

                    I am on a new mission to read at least one book a week (although if this mission goes anything like my 'I will not buy any more beauty products or toiletries until I absolutely need them' mission, I should expect to fail within the next 3 days), and the latest book I have read is Life Swap by Jane Green. This book has been in my locker at work for absolutely ages, and I did start reading it a while back, but gave up about 20 pages in. Now I have stopped buying trashy magazines, I am reading books a lot more, and having just finished (and loved) Bookends, another of Jane Greens novels, I was eager to read more of her work, which is why I fished this out from underneath all the useless paperwork and plastic cups I seem to be hoarding in my locker (or cave of wonders as it was recently referred to - I really must clean it out!).

                    ~The Plot~

                    Life Swap, which has also been published under the title Swapping Lives, just to avoid any confusion, is, not surprisingly the tale of two people who swap lives!

                    Victoria Townsley (Vicky to her friends) is a journalist on Poise! magazine in London. She is thirty-five and desperate to find a husband, settle down and have children, and basically live the lifestyle of her brother and his wife Kate, who live out in the countryside with their children, whom Vicky adores. When Vicky jokes that she would love to swap places with one of her married friends and have their life, the editor of Poise! decides that it would make a great feature for the magazine. She decides to run a 'life swap' article, whereby Vicky - who is single and living a glamorous lifestyle, but goes home to a small London flat with only her cat for company each night - would swap lives with a married mother for one month to see if the grass really is greener on the other side.

                    Over the other side of the Atlantic is Amber Winslow. Amber grew up in a trailer park with very little to her name, however was very clever. She managed to put herself through college, becoming a lawyer, and eventually meeting and marrying Richard.

                    Several years later, and Amber is living in a huge, beautiful house in the Connecticut suburbs, and has two children, Jared and Gracie. Amber gave up work to look after them, and is now a lady of leisure, spending her days attending charity meets with a bunch of incredibly bitchy housewives who basically spend their days trying to outdo each other, Amber being no exception to this.

                    Amber is feeling increasingly unfulfilled with her life, and when she sees an article in British magazine Poise! looking for a married mother to take part in a life swap, she thinks it could be just what she needs to gain some perspective on her life, and immediately writes in.

                    So, will Amber and Vicky get what they want out of the swap? And is the grass really always greener on the other side?

                    ~What I thought~

                    The first half of the book, before we even get to the swap, we learn about the characters. Although I would say both Vicky and Amber are equal in the story - and by that I mean no favour is given towards either character -I would say we learn a lot more about Amber than we do about Vicky. We hear of Ambers background and how she grew up, but little about Vicky's background. Vicky does get a little romantic sub-plot though, which sort of makes up for it a bit.

                    Although both characters are likeable, they are not loveable, and I thought that to be one of the main problems. Although I hoped both women would get their happy endings, I don't think it would have mattered either way for me, as I just didn't care enough. I think Vicky was easier to identify with, being British, but even so, there was nothing that made me love the character.

                    The book plods along for quite some time, and I found a lot of the plot leading up to the swap dragged and there was a lot of 'page-filling' going on, with pointless stuff that could have been avoided, and I skim-read a lot of it.

                    Despite that, it was quite readable in parts, and it wasn't the worst book I've ever read. There was a bit of a twist at the end which I genuinely didn't see coming, but other than that, I thought the book lacked excitement, and basically it just plodded along for most of its four hundred or so pages.

                    So, overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this. I personally think that Jane Green's earlier work, such as Bookends and Mr Maybe, were far better than these later offerings, and if you're looking for easy to read chick-lit, then I would choose something else.

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                      07.01.2008 12:27
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                      a feel good chick lit book

                      Life Swap came to me as part of a swap from a friend and as with my previous swap I have been very lucky as this is a book i really enjoyed.

                      The basic idea of the book is that there are two women, both of their lives couldn't be any different if they tried.
                      Vicky is a single lady living in London, and she works for a magazine called Poise. Amber lives in America and is married with two children. Her life is full of charity lunches, keeping up with the Jones' etc., whilst Vicky is on her own, but craving the love and attention of a family.

                      Poise decides to run an article calling for people wanting to swap lives for a month. Vicky finds herself being volunteered for the role and decides to go along with it. Not a lot is going right for her at the moment, as she is falling in love with a womaniser, and her neighbourhood night time friend isn't appealing to her as much as he used to.

                      After a few short listed possible swappers, Amber is chosen. We learn a fair bit about both Vicky and Amber separately before the actual swap, and what goes on in their lives, what kind of people they are etc. I wont give all that away here as it would spoil things for you.

                      The actual swap is for a month, and as they are both thrown into the opposite lives, the ones they think they truly want as they aren't their own, they begin to learn a lot about life as they don't know it.

                      Jane Green has done a good job of delving into both Vicky and Amber's heads, pulling out important behaviours of what they are both like. I really found I got into both the characters, and as always when I'm reading a good book, I was eager to turn the pages to find out what was going to happen next.

                      Life is of course fairly challenging for both ladies as the days go by, and of course it wouldn't be a good novel if there weren't a few twists to the plot at the end. It wasn't a hugely surprising twist I have to admit, but as it's a chick lit book, it does have a feel good factor to it.

                      There are the smaller obligatory character that make this book a good read, including Vicky's brother and his wife and kids. Vicky wants to be just like them with her own husband, and when she sees Amber's house, she thinks it can be just the same only in a different country.
                      There are a few possible love interests in Vicky's life even though she can't see it. Perhaps she is just attracted to the wrong kind of men.

                      Amber's husband and children feature heavily, as obviously they play a bit part in their lives. The children were written in fairly well, but I feel parts of the script could have been more realistic, as the children were either very good, or when they were naughty I just didn't grasp them actually being real about it.

                      This book is priced at around £5.99 but you all know it can be found cheaper, or even for free from the library etc.
                      A good read, recommended.

                      ISBN - 0141021720
                      Published - 2006

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                        03.08.2006 20:49
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                        Life Swap? Yes , Please!

                        This book is the first I have read by Jane Green and it was an easy to read, fun book. Based around two main characters Vicky and Amber. Vicky is a single, high flying journalist of Poise magazine in London and all she wants is a family and house in the country. Amber lives in Highfield, Conneticut with her husband and two children but she is fed up of keeping up with the fashion conscious mothers and feels she needs to find herself again away from home. Therefore, the two women take up the challenge of swapping lives for a month, but they soon learn that what the wanted after all was not what the first thought. Admittedly reading this book you fully expect Vicky to fall into bed with Amber's husband and admit their undying love for each other but this book insted highlights how powerful love in a marriage is and that men can be faithful(kind of). You will love the representation of London life and of life in the USA. The children in this book are delightful but oh so very realistic. This book would be perfect for the beach, my only warning is that the ending is a bit of a let down....Life Swap 2 maybe?
                        Length of book: 464 pages
                        RRP: £6.99

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                          01.06.2006 18:31
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                          A story of two very different women who swap lives to see what single and married life is like

                          What would you do if you were given the chance to swap your life with someone else? Maybe you are single and enjoy a great job, friends and an impressive social life but part of you wonders what its like to be married, have a wonderful husband, some beautiful children and live in big house with a couple of dogs. Or maybe you're married and have forgotten what its like to be young, free and single. What if someone offered you a swap, a life swap for a month, to find out if the grass is really greener on the other side, would you take it?

                          Well this is the story of two women who did just that. Vicky Townsley is the Features Director of the women's magazine Poise!, she is young, free and single although has a male friend she can call on when required. She enjoys her social life in London but she longs for a husband, children and a big house in the country with an Aga and some dogs. So when the idea comes up to do a magazine article on life swap Vicky jumps at the chance to try married life without the commitment.

                          The person she swaps lives with couldn't be more different. For a start Amber Winslow lives in America, has a husband, two children and a nanny, one dog and a large house with swimming pool. She doesn't work but fills her days with so-called charity work which is a front for the local women competing against each other for the best clothes, houses, food and jewellery. Despite all this Amber feels something is lacking in her life and she decides that a life swap might just be the thing she needs to set her life back on track again and escape for a while from the superficialness of her day to day existence.

                          This is the story of these two very different women and how they cope when they have to live each others lives.

                          I had never read any of Jane Greens other novels which include "The Other Woman", "Spellbound" and "Babyville" so I wasn't sure what to expect. However what I found was a book that was a very enjoyable read.

                          My book is the hardback version (I picked it up at a Scout Jumble Sale for only 50p!) and it 464 pages, and the actual life swap doesn't happen until page 268. This might sound like a very long introduction and that the book is slow to get going, but this isn't the case at all. The book is more than just the actual life swap, it's looking at the characters of these two very different women and seeing what makes them tick, what they like and how they interact with the people around them. By the time the life swap happens you feel like you know these two women well and that allows you to get into the life swap and see how they respond to living each others lives. For the reader to be able to appreciate the life swap they must first understand what each of the women's lives are like before they swapped.

                          This book is a great read, it lets you glimpse into two women's lives and then watch them as they try to take on another lifestyle with sometimes hilarious results. It also shows how they learn from each other and how they learn to appreciate what they have after being taken away from all that is familiar to them. Jane Green writes simply but allows us to really feel that we know these characters, they are written in a way that makes them very believable. As a fan of Desperate Housewives I can definitely see aspects of Amber Winslow's character in that programme. Although on the surface she appears to have everything when Vicky tries out her life she realises that there is so much missing e.g. quality time with the kids, many of her so-called friends are not genuine and she does not really know what is going on with her husband. Meanwhile Vickys life also has some problems, her relationships are not going well, men tend to use her and she keeps going back for more, will her trip to America make her more confident to change her life? There are a few surprise twists and turns which adds to the enjoyment of this book before you get to the end.

                          I think it's always exciting when you find a new author that you enjoy as now I look out for some more of her books and see if they are as enjoyable as this one.

                          So would I do a Life Swap, no definitely not but I would recommend the book!

                          Other Information

                          This book is now available in paperback. If you are looking out for it I have seen it with several different front covers. The one dooyoo shows has a purple background, mine has a white background but with the same cat and dog on the front. However I have also seen it with a darker purple background with lipsticks and baby building blocks too.

                          480 pages
                          ISBN: 0141021721
                          Price - £3.99

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                            30.04.2006 11:46
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                            Is a life swap just what the doctor ordered?

                            Vicky Townsley is a 35 year old singleton living in London, a features editor for ‘Poise’ magazine.

                            Amber Winslow is a Yummy Mummy, living the American dream in Connecticut. She has a rich husband, the kids and the dog - and yet *still* she feels less than satisfied. Sometimes not even her Manolos can cheer her up.

                            While having a throwaway conversation with her sister-in-law, a plan is hatched by Vicky for a new idea. Why not offer one lucky married reader a ‘life swap’ for a month, trading places with Vicky, a sort of ‘real life Desperate Housewives’?

                            I don’t think it will take a genius to realise who the lucky ‘married’ woman is. Yup. But what happens when they attempt to live each other’s dream?

                            * Characters *

                            Firstly I took a while to warm to both characters. I found Green focused mostly on Amber and immediately I didn’t like her much. Although she wants for nothing and spends all her time shopping and deciding which expensive outfit to buy next, she’s still not happy and spends all her time trying to keep up with the Joneses. Spoilt and annoying springs to mind.

                            Green also uses many ‘English’ sayings which frankly don’t work on an American character - primarily “Rubbish” which as far as I know is not used at all over there. Again this irked me. She also spent far too much time waffling on about money/wealth/riches/spending which wasn’t necessary as the reader can gather what kind of lifestyle Amber has pretty early on in the book.

                            Vicky was slightly less annoying luckily. I say slightly for a reason. She gets ’involved’ with a sleaze ball actor who treats her like dirt and she keeps running back for more. *sigh*

                            * ‘Larfs’ *

                            Sadly a character called Hugh Janus is brought into the book which causes much *ahem* mirth. Does he have a brother called Lar or a cousin called Sor? Oh dear. Maybe my sense of humour is on the wane but really it wasn’t *that* funny. It's just as well then that his name is pronounced Jan-us to make him a respectable someone or other who's fairly important on television's Channel Four.

                            The book does have its amusing moments - some of the bitchy Americans who judge Amber on her décor rather than personality have to be seen as sad creatures with nothing better to do than check their nail polish. Amber spends far too much time trying to impress these people and, I think, that's why she comes across so badly.

                            * Story *

                            The premise is good - is the grass always greener on the other side? However the actual ‘life swap’ seemed ages in coming and doesn’t occur until half way through the book. It’s all very well introducing the reader to the characters but after a little too much of Amber’s wealth shoved down my throat, I felt a “Get on with it” coming on. There is very little in way of a sub-plot - the whole book is based on the ladies trading lives with each other.

                            Once the Life Swap begins things did liven up somewhat and it was like a peak into reality tv. That’s more like it!

                            * What I liked *

                            Jane Green didn’t ‘big up’ the swap in that she tells of Vicky’s struggle with her new found position as Mom. You can identify with the character when both children are crying because they miss Amber and she doesn’t really know what to do to comfort them. Amber’s husband, Richard, is also weighed down by a secret that can threaten to tear apart the family he cherishes. Does this have something to do with Vicky?

                            Meanwhile Amber seems to fit into Vicky’s role at the magazine very well. She is invited out nearly every night as the single gal and even manages to turn a few heads along the way. She is a different person when taken out of her own environment and realises that she missed working and wasn’t happy with her shallow existence. She needed a new challenge and Life Swap gave her the chance to do just that.

                            Probably my favourite character was Kate, Vicky’s sister-in-law. She lives in the country with Vicky’s brother, and their three kids. She’s run off her feet but loves her role as cook/cleaner/agony aunt and seems to be the most genuine woman in the whole book.

                            * What was bad *

                            There are two characters called Deborah which I found confusing. Perhaps it was supposed to be clever - the fact that both characters had a best friend with that name, and indeed even more strangely Amber’s best friend in America called Deborah is, in fact, English. Once I’d read this I was a bit baffled and had to flick back a few pages to see if she *was* actually one and the same person.

                            The story is told in the present tense, which I always find a bit off-putting. Chapter one is voiced as if we’re peering into Vicky’s life, sort of like Mary Alice’s commentary on ‘Desperate Housewives’ - perhaps this was what Green was aiming for.

                            * Overall *

                            I did like the story. It didn’t keep my attention solidly for large chunks at a time, unlike some of her previous offerings. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m older now and am not enjoying the books as much or whether the storyline wasn’t really engaging enough. I’ve read all of Green’s books and if you’re a big fan of hers you won’t be disappointed. This is a good book and despite its flaws I did enjoy it. The idea is clever and the characters will hold your interest, even if you do find them irritating. However it’s not her best offering - ‘Bookends‘ is still my favourite and ‘Babyville‘ I didn‘t think much of at all. This sits in between the two.

                            It’s a 3 star effort which is just an average middle-of-the-road type of rating.

                            * Other info *

                            Previous books by Jane Green are Jemima J, Bookends, Straight Talking, Mr Maybe, Babyville, Spellbound and The Other Woman.

                            This particular book, Life Swap is currently available in either a metallic pink or turquoise jacket and has an ISBN of 0-141-02172-1 and is published by Penguin. The RRP is £6.99 but I got it in good old Tesco for £3.73 (Asda have it too at this price).

                            464 pages.

                            www.janegreen.com

                            Thanks for reading.

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                          • Product Details

                            From the outside, Vicky Townsley would appear to have it all. Features Director of the hugely successful Poise! magazine, she lives alone in London, is single, solvent, and seriously successful. But she'd give it all up in a heartbeat for marriage, children, and a house in the country. Amber Winslow, on the other hand, has exactly what Vicky Townsley wants: a huge stone mansion in Highfield Connecticut, children and a busy charitable commitment for the local Women's League. But Amber isn't happy either. She hasn't found quite the fulfilment she had expected from being a full-time wife and mother, so when she spots a double page spread in Poise! magazine asking married readers to life swap with a glamorous, single journalist in London, she sits down and writes a letter. But she never expects to be picked...Life Swap is the story of what really happens when two women decide to walk in one another's shoes for one month. It's the story of the grass not being as green as you might think, and of discovering that happiness is not always where you expect it to be.