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Saturday night is a nightmare when you're single. Saturday night is for couples and everyone knows it...
Victoria Shepworth is single once again. Dumped on her 30th birthday by the man she thought was 'the one'.
Victoria knows all too well about Saturday nights alone and wants to find Mr Right, even if it means hunting him down on the internet.
Receiving a brand new computer for her birthday from her father, Victoria tries to forget her ex and after a brief fling with Liam, a guy from work, Victoria turns to the internet in her search for the man of her dreams, where eventually she meets Pierre. But is the Englishman living in Paris really all he seems to be?
The book begins on a funny note as Victoria reflects on her past relationships, realising how she always does the same things everytime she breaks up with someone. The main thing being a new haircut. As Victoria says: "A new haircut, a new life. You know how it works."
As she recaps on her disastrous relationships, I found there were quite a few things that both myself and friends of mine could relate to and it does make for amusing reading which surprised me a little, as when I was given this book to read, I did not think I would enjoy it much. The main reason I thought this was because chick-lit as it is generally known, is not really my preferred genre when reading. However, I am always prepared to give any book a try as I love reading, but if I am not into the book after reading a chapter or two, I usually find it a struggle.
Thankfully, this book is an entertaining read from the first page, its amusing opening setting the pace for what follows - a quirky tale of someone trying to find the man and the relationship of their dreams. Whilst it is funny and contains some laugh out loud moments, there are also parts where I felt sympathy for Victoria, though I struggled to feel sorry for her when I think the author would like you to and this was because Victoria does come across as self-centred at times.
When Bill, a guy who lives upstairs, sets up Victoria's pc for her, she invites her friends round and they crowd round the pc as Victoria proudly sends her first email to a work colleague. This is something I particularly enjoyed about reading this book as it brought back memories of when I first began using the internet, which was actually not long after this book was published in 1999. Therefore I personally could relate to many things that are mentioned and it also brought home to me how things have moved on since then in terms of technology and the internet, even though it wasn't that long ago.
Whilst social networking is now common place and every home seems to have access to a computer and the internet, back in 1999 this was not the case. When I bought my first pc and installed the internet, only one of my friends also had the same. These days, all my friends are online. Also when I think back to ten years ago, the idea of meeting someone on the internet was something that wasn't as acceptable or 'normal' as it is now.
So, to be taken back to the early days of chatting online was not only amusing, but also hit home to me just how far things have moved on these last ten years or so.
As Victoria finds 'Find A Friend' online, she initially thinks it is the saddest thing she has ever came across, but it soon becomes completely addictive, so much so that she manages to lose track of time when online. She types 'Soulmate' into the search engine and enjoys reading the profiles of folk looking for love, which she finds hilarious.
Then Bill shows Victoria how to use internet chat rooms and creating a nickname for herself, Victoria ventures into her first online conversations and has to learn internet jargon which she finds baffling at first. Then when the name 'Pierre Dubois' pops up and begins a conversation, suddenly Victoria finds herself intrigued by Pierre and enjoying their online chat. As their online relationship develops, Victoria wonders if she has at last found 'the one' or is Pierre just too good to be true?
Jessica Adams has written an amusing book here in an entertaining style, which at times is disarmingly accurate as many women will identify with the characters here. She ensures the reader doesn't get bored and also the characterisation is very good, with all characters well developed and down to earth and I found plenty to relate to when reading about them. Although Victoria does come across as self-centred at times which I mentioned earlier and also maybe a little desperate about finding a man, it was hard not to have any empathy for her character, who fears at the age of 30 that time is running out.
It was an easy book to read and its entertainment value kept me turning the pages. I particularly enjoyed the online conversations between Victoria and Pierre which are included as they would appear in the chat room, which in turn makes for a more realistic read. The story itself is nothing remarkable, but there is a twist near the end, which if I'm honest, I had been expecting.
Single White Email is certainly a book which can still be read and enjoyed today, despite the fact that online friends and relationships are much more widely acceptable and technology has improved since this book was published and this is because the principals of this story are still relevant today.
Read it and have a giggle. You may even be able to relate to parts of this story as indeed I was.
Whilst this type of book will never be my preferred genre, as a light-hearted and entertaining read, Single White Email ticks all the boxes.
Seeing as the weather has been so nice recently and I have a considerable gap before the workload starts up again I have spend quite a lot of time sitting in the garden and by the lake. In keeping with this mood I borrowed this book from my friend as I had exhausted my own chick-lit selection (which is not that expansive!) and needed something light and fluffy to enjoy the weather with. Enter Single White E-mail by Jessica Adams.
Jessica Adams an Australian author and astrologer (she writes the horoscopes for Australian Vogue and B magazine in the UK), born in 1964. Single White Email was her debut novel, released in 1998 and she is also the facilitator for the Girls Night In/Out books- which are a collection of short stories by various authors that raise money for WarChild charity.
The main character in the book is Victoria "Total Bloody Relationships Disaster" Shepworth. Victoria has recently split up with her boyfriend of 2 years and is adjusting to the single life. The book is written from her perspective and she is slightly crazy, but completely identifyable with. Even though her train of thought is sometimes odd, you find yourself understanding exactly what she is getting at. I really liked the fact that Victoria recognised her flaws, however not in a derogatory way like most chick-lit heroines do, and I believe this is what makes her so relatable to the reader.
Victoria's friends are Hilary, Jodie and Didi. The characters are not delved in to the same depth as Victoria, however still come across as likeable and good friends, who try and do their best to cheer Victoria up when she is reaching the point of dispair. Hilary goes on her own journey throughout the book, which makes for an interesting sub-strand, however a bit more examination of her character would have been good to give this plotline more substance.
Victoria's ex boyfriends are also mentioned throughout the book however the key male characters are Dan who is her most recent failed relationship, Liam the "transitional man", Pierre Dubois her online friend and Bill the Boffin who is her upstairs neighbour that fixes all her broken electricals. These men are all very different to each other, but all have aspects of their personalities that appeal to Victoria. As a reader you don't learn too much about them until the end of the book, however I wont go into this as it will spoil the plot.
After breaking up with Dan, and going through a mad phase of phoning psychics and stalking Dan's new girlfriend, Victoria installs the internet in her flat and sets up a chatroom for newly single people. It is here she meets "Pierre Dubois", an englishman living in Paris and finds she can talk to him about anything and everything. So much so, she loses focus on her job, family and friends and can only think about coming home, turning on her computer and chatting to Pierre. However when she finds out about the man behind the computer screen, her whole situation changes and she must face up to the real world once again.
I think the key to this book's success how it was written and how the thoughts in Victoria's head were conveyed. Often witty yet slightly crazy it is the relatability that keeps you entertained through a somewhat mediocre plot. The writing style is clearly woman to woman and so would probably not appeal to a male reader.
I would say this is a pretty standard piece of women's fiction, however this is precisely why I chose to read it. The beginning is quite slow and nothing really happens for the first 100 pages or so and the plot is not exactly riveting but it is a really easy read. When I was reading it in the sunshine, I had gotten halfway through the book before realising. There is nothing offensive here and the plot is made up for by the likeability of the characters, particularly Victoria.
I did enjoy the visits Victoria took down memory lane to her experiences with her ex-boyfriends as it allowed the reader to see what had made her the person she is today when it came to relationships and men and gave points of references which could be continually mentioned as the plot developed.
I have to say I wasn't too sure about the ending. I predicted the basic plotline of the book (however this is fairly standard practice for me in this genre) however then very end of the book is slightly strange. On the plus side it wasnt the typical ending, on the other hand it just seemed a bit odd and unresolved to me. It was interesting however to follow a woman's journey through a break up and how she moves on, even though the route she takes may not be the best one!
The book is also now over 10 years old and the internet has come on leaps and obunds since then, so the concept is now quite dated. This was written in a time where not every household had the internet so you will have to cast your minds back a bit! (I struggled to remember!!!!)
If you are looking for a nice easy summer read then this book is perfect, however if you like stories with a decent plot and lots of twists and turns, then this is not the book for you!
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