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Julia Rothwell is at a bit of a loss. She's just lost her high-flying job as a hedge fund manager in a big bank, and doesn't really know what to do with herself. So when her best friend and flatmate Reece suggests that she writes a "10 things to do before I die" list, Julia gets stuck in and coming up with a pretty exciting list. She wants to swim with dolphins, visit Tokyo, have relations with an Italian man and many more too! Thanks to her exciting list, Julia ends up jetting all over the globe alone, with her friends and with a few strangers she meets along the way too. Julia soon begins to realise that there is much more to life than working crazy hours and getting promotions at work, but what is she going to discover about herself along the way too? Will Julia achieve all 10 of her dreams, or will she get more than she bargained for?
I read and adored Deborah Wright's previous novel The Celebrity Mother earlier this year, so I was really surprised to discover that just 11 months later, Deborah had another book coming out. I loved her the previous one, so I was really excited to read this one and see if Wright's story-telling would live up to my expectations. In deep contrast to many of the latest releases we have seen on the shelf recently, this book has a gorgeous summery themed cover, and is certainly one to read and brighten up these somewhat dull autumn/winter days. I think the cover really reflects the book perfectly and it's nice to see something bright and sunny on the shelves for once!
The book dives straight in to the top 10 ideas list of Julia's which is good because it throws the reader into the middle of the story and immediately makes it unputdownable. Wright chooses to go back to the idea of the Top 10 by Julia's flatmate through the use of small flashbacks, which occur throughout the book as well, and are used to explain things that are mentioned by Julia in the present. I really liked the way this is done because it allows the backstory to come through easily without bogging down the book too much and therefore getting too engrossed in the past. Julia's first dream is to sleep with an Italian man, so first of all we follow Julia en route to Rome. Through this journey, we meet another important character that is prominent throughout the book, a traveller named Luke.
Wright has actually kept the main cast list of this book fairly small, keeping to just Julia, Reece, Luke and Reece's boyfriend Ciaran. Of course, other characters pop up as the book progresses but they don't hang around for long, and the book just maintains focus on these 4 people. Julia is very likeable. She's actually a really realistic character because she's lost her job, she is conscious of running out of money and she is actually pretty hesitant about carrying out her list despite the fact she is free to do what she wants. I think that is what I'd be like - keen to write the list but fulfilling it would be a different matter altogether! Julia is so easy to warm to and the perfect lead character. We see the whole story from Julia's point of view, so it is important to like her and her narrative, but it wasn't a problem for me at all.
As for the other characters, they were very well created too. Luke was a bit of a mystery, and not necessarily a character that I warmed to throughout the novel. He had something about him which made me dislike him very much. As his story is revealed, I think we are supposed to perhaps understand why he is like he is, but for me he just wasn't nice. Reece is Julia's best friend, but I could see that she was a bit of a so-and-so from the start, I really didn't like her. Reece's true colours are revealed through the book, and some more serious issues are explored by Wright which I felt were really well done. Finally, there is Ciaran who is Reece's current boyfriend and funnily enough, Julia's ex boyfriend too. This actually gives the book quite a good twist and made for interesting reading because you just don't know how the pair of them are going to be with each other next!
Wright's love for travel certainly comes through in this book. Her previous book, The Celebrity Mother, was inspired by a trip Wright made to India, and this really came across when I read the book, and I found this was the case for this book too. Julia actually visit India in this book, and again Wright's passion for it really comes across. We also visit Rome in Italy, Las Vegas and New York in America, and Tokyo in Japan so it really is a great book if you love books that centre around travel. You can tell Wright has really researched the places in the book because she describes them so well, and you can vividly see them in your mind as Julia describes them to us.
Overall, this book is just fantastic, and certainly the perfect read to sit back with on a rainy evening and transport yourself to somewhere hot and sunny for a while! Wright brings these characters to life with her story, and the action is constantly happening so that you are never bored when you are reading this. It actually made me want to pick it up every spare minute I had because I was desperate to find out what was going to happen to Julia and co next. Wright brings the places in this book to life with her vivid writing, and it really was a pleasure to read from start to finish. Even though the cover and theme may not be in keeping with the season, it really doesn't matter because this is one of those books you can read any time of year and devour in just a few sittings, it's fabulous, and highly recommended!
ISBN: 978-0755351145. Published by Headline Review in November 2010. Pages: 544. RRP: £6.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.