I have read a few of Jill Mansell's novels. They are very much 'chick-lit' genre but always thoroughly enjoyable and ideal for a little bit of escapism. Mansell's style of writing is quick paced, easy going and makes you desperate to turn the page to find out what's going to happen next. I find Mansell is very good at making you care about the main characters; you can genuinely believe that these people exist - even if the situations are sometimes a little far fetched and idealistic!
'Open House' starts with a flashback to a few years ago when main character, Nell O'Driscoll, is a teenager. She meets with Marcus, a local wealthy boy who looks down on the O'Driscoll family because of their gypsy heritage. Marcus lives at Kilburton Castle, where it is rumoured Nell's mother conducts an affair with Marcus's father. After a confrontation with each other we learn just how strong a character Nell is and instantly like her.
Years later they meet again when Marcus decides to open Kilburton Castle to the public. Nell secures a job as his assistant and soon become indispensable to Marcus and the running of Kilburton Castle. Nell's best friend, Hetty Brewster, also secures a job in the castle café after her hsuband leaves her for a younger, bitchier, richer woman. Hetty has her own enjoyable sub story, with a little bit of comedy coming from her husband's new woman - Vanessa. Vanessa is a very over the top, fake nails, fake tan and author of bodice-ripping novels and good fun as the 'pantomime villain'.
Before long there is more than spark of attraction between Marcus and Nell; this is quite predictable but Mansell's wonderful way with her characters makes you really hope they do get together and live happily ever after. However, there is something in Nell's past that has become stuck in her present and could possibly get in the way of her future. It's not going to be easy to overcome this obstacle.
I don't believe the story is as strong with some of Mansell's novels but this doesn't stop this being a bit of light, fun reading. As with all her novels, it is a feel good read and does genuinely feel happier and slightly more positive - no mater how far fetched the story lines at times! Ideal for holidays J
A new Headline edition of this delightful romantic comedy from the Sunday Times bestselling author, originally published by Transworld and now available after a period out of print.