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I am usually a massive Park fan, but this book was more then disappointing. The storyline revolves around six characters at a wedding, who have been lifelong friends. As memories are shared and wine is drunk, secrets begin to escape...
It had the potential to be a leading book in this rather over used storyline, but it didn't quite get there. For a start, the characters were a horrible bunch of people. They were supposed to be shown as rich and beautiful, with 'slight flaws'...they were the type of people you actively avoid, and not one of them had any endearing qualities. What made this more frustrating was that after forcing myself to read to the end, none of them learnt anything, or got any better. They ended the book as horrible and ego centric as it began.
The second big flaw was with the characters decisions. For example, Tash has a lot of decisions to make, but she never makes the right one. We aren't ever told, or even hinted, at how she made her mind up. Instead, we are left to wonder how on earth she came to certain conclusions, and some of her decisions were so far away from the type of character she is that it is completely unbelievable.
As I said, I usually love Parks, and her way of writing good, thought provoking chick lit. This was unputdownable, but for all the wrong reasons, and it certainly doesn't show off her ability.
Before you get into this review I have to warn you that 'Still Thinking of You' is a really light, easy read and definitely comes under the category of 'chick lit'! Having said this though, if this is your sort of read (even if only occasionally) then I would definitely recommend it! I had already read a couple of books by Adele Parks - both of which were very enjoyable, and I was definitely not disappointed by this book either.
At the start of the book we meet Tash and Rich - they haven't known each other long but already know that they are both 'the one' as far as the other is concerned! Rich has been down on one knee and the date for the wedding is set! All set for a happy ending then...
There is only one problem which Tash is as yet unaware of - Rich's extremely close knit group of friends who have all known each other since university days. Right from the first meeting Tash is made to feel like the outsider - excluded from their trips down Memory Lane and unable to join in conversations about mutual acquaintances. Worst of all, they all have nicknames based on childrens toys! There is Jason, otherwise known as Scaly (something to do with scale extric!), kate is Ms Monopoly and Ted is Big Ted. Rich has always been known as Action Man, and Lloyd is Checkers. It is really only one member of the gang, Mia, who really insists on continuing with these names, and promptly christens Tash as Barbie Babe! (Probably not the most welcome of nicknames!)
Anyway, Tash tries not to be too put out! Besides it is Rich she is going to marry - in a very private ceremony as part of a skiing holiday in France. That is, of course, until Rich decides to invite all the gang along - and what a wek it turns out to be!
Each member of the gang is not without his or her problems and secrets. As the week wears on, the strain starts to tell on all of them and gradually the firm friendhips start to feel a little flimsy. Lloyd resents the way everyone dropped him after his divorce, Ted is harbouring a huge secret and is petrified about telling his wife, and Mia has a secret yearning which she will go to any lengths to fulfil. Everything is further complicated by the arrival of an extra guest, Ted's sister Jayne, who is said to be recovering from a broken heart! Nobody - not even Rich - is aware that it is actually he who is the perpetrator of such a crime, based on a very loose, casual, sexual relationship over the years! Jayne is pretty determined that she is really the one for Rich and truly believes that he has no feelings for Tash. Rich is in turmoil because he hadn't told Tash about this particular relationship even though she is so keen on total honesty!
As the events unfold over the week, it is at times quite dramatic, and right to the end you are kept guessing whether the wedding will go ahead and also whether the particular friendships in the group will survive! (And of course I'm not going to tell you what happened!)
I did really enjoy this book though! It followed a couple of heavier reads and I was in need of something quite light and fresh. The story was easy to keep up with as it unfolded, but was never predictable as Adele Parks kept adding extra dimensions as it went along. I also felt the characters were quite believable, and for the most part likeable. I could definitely sympathise with Tash and her feelings of exclusion - I guess most have been in similar situations to varying degrees at some time in our lives!
I like Adele parks' style of writing. She seems to be quite a good observer of people and relationships, but also writes with a certain humour which keeps the story light! The one thing I was not so keen on was when she was writing about anyone's intimate relationships she tended to use quite crude language which didn't necessarily feel in keeping with the characters or the book! And that's not me just being a prude!
This was certainly a book I wanted to keep on reading though and at just under 600 pages it was quite a long read. I was kept guessing about a lot of things right to the end which is always a good thing! So if you are into this sort of book, I would definitely recommend it, and if you are interested it is published by penguin with a RRP of £7.99. As it was such an enjoyable read I thought that was good value!
Fed up with the daily grind of reading the bad news in newspapers, I decided that there really must be more enjoyment of my daily commute. After years of buying only the serious reads, I ventured into WH Smith with the approach a bit similar to a ram raid, grab the first cover that looks like fun and escape. Not particularly the most sane or rational of approaches to book buying, but after finding this gem of an author, Ive stuck to the method!.
Who is Adele Parks?
As the author of a girlie book, as expected Adele is female and similar to many of her characters, is roughly in her early 30s. Old enough to have experienced a bit, but young enough to still remember!
She graduated from Leicester University following a combined English Literature and Language degree into what seems like a mini adventure! Teaching English in Italy, then embarking into a career in advertising, then heading to Botswana, designing and building a house, getting married, becoming a mother, getting divorced, actually you name it and she has done it! But in 2000 I think she managed to find her real calling in life and started knuckling down to writing. Now six years on, her pace doesnt appear to have altered with six books under her belt, which equates to one a year average, she must work on steam!
Still Thinking of You, was published in June 2004, and features at number 5 in her speedy production line!
If you want to have a read about her, or check her various titles, I would suggest her home page as a good starting point at http://www.adeleparks.com/
Before I tell you about the actual book, I thought it might be best to warn those who are searching for the answers to life, or an intellectual read to not even consider this book. This as all of the others in the series focuses on the real ingredients of life, people, friendships, relationships and what goes right and wrong. There are no hard and fast lectures on how to live, or indeed how not to, its all based around a short introduction to a period of life for the characters in the book. As with all of Adeles books the text is written in first person.
There are no intellectual challenges, the language is simple, easy reading, a light refreshment rather than a full hearty meal! If you are looking for a book to remove you from your dreary commute to work, then this is it, but be warned keep a watch out for the pending saucy bits! The pace is fast and the emotions high, the characters are described so well that you will feel as if their actions directly effect you. If that sounds like your sort of read, then keep going and Ill tell you some more!
Do you remember that moment when you first met your boyfriend (or of course girlfriends) friends? That moment where you feel as if you are becoming something more than a newly formed couple? The feeling of fear and excitement of what are the people who the one you love really like, you have listened to all of those hours of group anecdotes, and feel as if you already know them, but still at the mention of meeting them you are filled with the fear of what ifs. What if you dont like them or worse what if they dont like you. Well this is where the story starts, after being introduced to Tash and Rich, the newly engaged couple at the centre of the plot, Adele Parks swiftly moves the reader into the cusp of Richs old life and the friends he has left behind following meeting Tash. Tash is excited and dying to get to know them, visualising the whole experience as only a positive one, ready to embrace them and make them her own friend.
Rich sees his impending off the wall wedding at a skiing resort as the perfect opportunity for introducing Tash to his well loved old Uni buddies, an idea which Tash continues to embrace even when her friends all drop out. All united on the plane with the addition of a friends sibling, the story starts; seven days, six characters and one wedding. The story twists and turns through all of the emotions only those who are close can feel, friendship, sentimentality, obsession, love, hate, until each of the characters face the biggest changes in their lives.
Each of the characters are developed to reveal all of their facets who they truly are and who they project themselves as being, nothing stays hidden for long. Be prepared for some shocks, some predicted moments and to experience the journey of those 7 days in great detail. Adele Parks specialises in managing to reveal and describe each of the characters in such depth that as the book absorbs you, you feel as if you are an add on to the events. Each of the emotions the book reveals, you as the reader can feel. Every moment a character experiences the reader is drawn into. All of the characters become as human and recognisable as your own.
The writing is clever, the human observation is outstanding and the plot forms an interesting and well researched back drop to a story which is intrinsically about human interaction. Chapter to chapter weaves through character to character, gradually revealing a picture which is far more pleasant than initially feels, you will warm to and hate exactly the same character.
Would I recommend it?
Most certainly, its a brilliant book by a brilliant author. Adele Parks and this first introduction has changed my negative feelings towards girlie books, and in one fair swoop pulled me into an addiction in a new genre, that I had previously refused to touch.
Its definitely worthy of any train journey and beyond. There were stages in the plot where I really didnt want my journey to end, just because I wanted to know what happened next. Be prepared to go through nearly missing your stop, having a train fill around you while you are totally oblivious, sneaking a quick read in the park before work, starting to wish for unsociable lunches on your own to read! I can truly say that when I reached the end of the 600 odd pages I was actually devastated, I wanted it to go on and on!
Price and Availability
The book retails for £6.99 and is available in most bookshops online or on the high street. Personally I brought mine from WH Smith where it or others of Adele Parks novels can often be found on special offer (buy one get one half price).
If you shop on Amazon, there are plenty of used ones for sale starting at 50p, most in very good condition. Or if you are planning to buy it new, prices appear to start at around £3.00.