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Having read, and enjoyed, Wolfes previous book "The Trials of Tiffany Trott", I was keen to read this latest offering. The star character, Minty, is a radio reporter who is loved by everyone. Apart from her fiancé, apparently, who jilts her at the alter. While her family and friends breathe a sigh of relief, describing Dominic as very attractive but also very controlling, Minty decides to be much less "nice".
With the help of her cousin Amber, who is much less likable and definitely not sweet, she goes on a 'Quest for Self', to discover who she really is and what she really wants. While all of this sounds very cliched and over done, Minty really is a likeable character, and the book begins to make you think about why Dominic really left. While he won't win any awards for best fiancé, he did like his life, and was eager to be Minty's husband...
Eventually Minty discovers Dominic's secret, but by then she has decided that being nice gets you nowhere, and has become hard faced and bitter. She is badly hurt by the rejection, and won't trust anyone, becoming completely self dependant...meaning she has a big challenge to become the lovely person she once was.
While the storyline isn't going to win any awards for originality, it is well written, and you'll really connect with Minty. While you'll be glad she's go away from the nasty Dominic, it's a realistic portrayal of the feeling of being jilted, and not understanding why, and the self blame that occurs after break ups.
Wolfe writes well, and manages to mix the storyline with a huge amount of romance and comedy, making it very readable! The writing about Paris is enchanting, and Minty's reaction to the interest of other men is laugh out loud funny. An excellent read!
~~~ The Story ~~~
This tale begins on the title character's wedding day as she is preparing for the biggest day of her life. Unfortunately the day turns out to be not quite as Minty had planned when her fiancé Dominic dumps her at the altar in front of all her family and friends.
So Minty and her best friend head off to Paris on what would have been Minty's honeymoon. In Paris, Minty meets a British writer named Joe who pops up again when she returns home.
The book follows Minty through the course of a year or so. During this time she makes lots of changes to her life and eventually ends up much happier without Dominic.
~~~ Good Points ~~~
The main character in this book is interesting and endearing and there are a lot of interesting, well-written and amusing supporting characters as well.
The book is very funny in places and although it is easy to predict how the book will end, the story itself is not all that predictable.
This is not just the usual tale of girl loses boy, girl finds new boy, girl has a misunderstanding with new boy and they fall out, girl gets back together with boy and they live happily ever after. The story is interesting and is even slightly inspiring for anyone who has ever been left broken hearted.
~~~ Bad Points ~~~
Despite being only 448 pages long, this book took me a ridiculously long time to read. The reason for this is because the first sixty pages or so are made up of a monologue by the main character. There is no conversation, it is just her thinking out loud and to say that it got on my nerves would be an understatement.
In fact, when I picked up the book recently to read it again it took only a few pages to remind myself of how bad it was before I skipped to the end of the monologue as I just couldn't face reading it again.
Thankfully, once the initial monologue bit is out of the way the rest of the book is surprisingly good although the author does have an annoyingly gimmicky way of linking paragraphs together with the same phrase which serves no purpose whatsoever.
~~~ Overall Opinion ~~~
This is easy to read and has a nice story with interesting characters. If you're after something that's not too taxing this could be it. Just skim read the first sixty pages.
This was the second of Isabel Wolff's novels that I had read, the first being The Trials of Tiffany Trott, which I reviewed not long ago. I quite enjoyed that one, so I was looking forward to reading this.
We first meet Minty Malone on her wedding day. She's getting married to successful insurance salesman Dominic. As Minty begins to tell us about Dominic, we start to realise that he might not quite as perfect as she would have us believe. She tells us how Dominic tells her what to wear, and how he won't go to any of the places she likes, yet drags her on golf and fishing holidays. She tells us though, that she doesn't mind, because love is about compromise, and anyway, if she protests he gets angry, and Minty doesn't like confrontation.
As she gets to the altar wearing a dress she doesn't really like - she wanted Victorian lace, but Dominic said only designer would do, and made her show him a picture so he could decide if the dress she had chosen was suitable first - the couple begin to say their vows. Halfway through though Dominic stops. He says he can't do this, and leaves Minty standing there in front of over 200 of her friends, family and colleagues, humiliated.
After the initial shock, anger, humiliation, and tears have subsided, Minty comes to the conclusion that the reason Dominic treated her the way he did was that she was too nice. It's the same in her job as a radio reporter - she let's her colleagues walk all over her, and even in her own home, where her feisty cousin Amber came to stay for a couple of days and is still there months later. Minty decides the way forward is not to be so nice, and enrols on a course called 'The nice factor' to try to learn how to stand up for herself.
Will Minty be able to gain some confidence and learn how to be more assertive with people? And will she ever get over Dominic's betrayal, and find out the real reason he left her standing at the aisle?
~What I thought~
Well firstly I got into this novel straight away, unlike the last Isabel Wolff novel I read, which wasn't quite so quick paced. As a reader, we get to know and like Minty pretty much straight away, and the more tales she tells us of how Dominic treated her, the more we as a reader begin to loathe the man, and will Minty to see what he's really like, as she is constantly making excuses for his behaviour.
As the story goes on, we actually meet quite a lot of characters beyond the opening chapters of the novel, and usually the more characters a book has, the more I tend to get confused, but this wasn't the case here, which I can only conclude must have been because it was so well written.
The book didn't really take the direction I had expected it to from reading the description on the back, however I think the way the story developed was done quite well.
One thing that annoyed me was that Amber, Minty's cousin is supposed to be an author and there were constant references throughout to other famous novels, and I found them boring and unnecessary to the story, and in a way I wondered if it was just Isabel Wolff's way of showing off her literary knowledge!
I thought the characters were all realistic and as I said we sympathise with Minty almost immediately, and I felt like screaming 'can't you see he's no good for you!' when I was reading about the relationship she had with Dominic.
The book is quite light - it is chick lit after all - but it's not as 'fluffy' as some others I've read, and has a teeny bit more depth. Overall, I thought it was a good read, and I'm going to look out for more books by the same author in the future.