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Take a Chance on Me - Jill Mansell

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Jill Mansell / Hardcover / 416 Pages / Book is published 2010-02-18 by Headline Review

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    8 Reviews
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      27.02.2013 14:17
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      A good effort but not my favourite from this author

      *~*Introduction*~*

      When my best friend discovered her love of Jill Mansell books around two years ago started slowly working her way through them all and after she has finished reading whichever she has chosen at the time it then gets passed on to me. I'd heard of Mansell and knew she wrote chick lit, which I do enjoy and is my preferred choice of genre, but until my friend started lending me her copies I'd never actually read any of her work. I soon grew to like Mansell's easy going style of writing and now eagerly look forward to when my friend utters the words "I've just finished reading that book" as I know I'm next in line to read it. As Jill Mansell has just written a new book called 'Don't want to miss a thing' - which has already been eagerly purchased and currently being read as we speak by said friend - I was given the book she had just finished reading before titled 'Take A Chance On Me' which my review will now focus on.


      *~*Brief synopsis*~*

      Cleo Quinn has a job she loves: driving a limousine for a living, some great friends, is close to her older sister Abbie and lives in the nice village of Channing's Hill, but most importantly she has Will. Will is handsome and treats Cleo like a gentleman should and whilst he isn't perfect she has a feeling that things could get serious which is good as she doesn't exactly have a fantastic track record when it comes to keeping a man. Just as life seems to be going her way for once along pops a face from her past that makes her shiver in the form of her childhood nemesis Johnny LeVenture. Good looking, talented and rich, Johnny has it all..especially a large ego which grates on Cleo the moment he arrives back in Channing's Hill to sell his family home after his father's death.


      Cleo's sister Abbie and her husband Tom have been happily married for years but still yearn the longed for baby that wasn't meant to be, whilst Cleo's neighbour and friend Ash is still hoping to find that special lady when two come along at once in the form of Fiona and Georgia. As with all Jill Mansell books nothing is plain sailing so throw in lots of unrequited love, some strange customers from Cleo's driving job, a love sick boss and an unexpected face from the past and you have all of the ingredients for Take A Chance On Me.


      *~*My thoughts on the book*~*

      I love reading and *have* to read every single night without fail or else I simply can't sleep, and find it not only enjoyable but also therapeutic as it helps me wind down from the day's events. I only really tend to read chick lit as it's light hearted enough to transport me from any current stresses or worries without having to concentrate too much, with my all time favourite author being Sophie Kinsella and now a close runner up being Jill Mansell.

      When I was given 'Take A Chance On Me' I was already in the middle of reading another book which I was struggling to fully get into so abandoned for the time being in favour of this. I have to admit though that I found the first three or four chapters to be quite slow, and though not exactly dull they certainly didn't grip me enough to warrant a late night of reading that so often happens when I get engrossed in a new book. I found the characters at first very hard to like as they were all quite one dimensional and had little to offer, but once I got to around page 30 the story seemed to take on a new lease of life - as did the characters - and the story started to be far more engrossing than it had started off as and fast started becoming a worthwhile read.

      The story centres mainly around the character of Cleo and her tangled love life, and whilst we meet her first I found it took time for me to warm to her as I wasn't overly keen on her at first. As with all Mansell books there is sub plot with and overlapping story that often works it's way round to the main story, and this particular one involves her older sister Abbie who we meet briefly at first but get to know better around 4 chapters in. This for me is when the story started to perk up and really take shape and I found myself suddenly caring about what was happening rather than simply skimming over each paragraph.

      I did start to like Cleo though she seemed a bit of a weak character throughout though did become quite likable the more I read. Abbie on the other hand I warmed to straight away, and her own story line had me gripped throughout and I felt she portrayed a dignified silence with what started to happen in her own life and I admit I much preferred the chapters that focused on her and Tom's life than that of Cleo's.

      The character of Johnny LaVenture was one that I didn't want to like but I couldn't help falling for the charming wit he portrayed from the second we meet him. He was described by Cleo as making her life a living hell but I found him more of a 'cheeky chappie' than cocky and arrogant as we are so led to believe from the start.

      As much as I've grown to love Mansell's books, I've found there to be quite a repetitive theme which is common throughout them all. There always seems to be the subject of 'girl meets boy + unrequited love = happy ending' which though can be quite predictable doesn't necessarily make the story any less entertaining and this was the case here once I really started to get into it.



      *~*Recommended?*~*

      I do love easy going chick lit and this falls nicely into that category with ease. Once the characters back stories all came to light it made the book far more interesting and I was interested to see how Cleo and Johnny would get on now that they were living in such close proximity again. I can't go into the Abbie and Tom story line too much as it will give too much away but I was really drawn in to this particular plot and found myself hoping the story wouldn't linger to much on Cleo as I wanted to get back to what was happening to Abbie.

      At just 410 pages long it's an ideal book for passing the time on holiday and if you persevere long enough with the first few chapters (which are short by the way) then the story does become much more engrossing, well as much as chick lit can be. It's a fairly light hearted read, but again as with all her books Mansell adds a heartwarming touch that always has a slightly sad element though generally ends on a happier note. It's quite a feel good book in the end and whilst it's not one I think I'll read again in the future it's definitely worth a read if you are a fan of this genre or in particular the author.

      I wouldn't say this is my favourite Jill Mansell book, but its certainly not the worst I've read and I would recommend giving it a read if looking for something that isn't too taxing on the brain. It was ideal to wind down with on an evening and though it didn't cause me to read into the early hours - much to the delight of my husband - it certainly wasn't one that I abandoned midway through either.

      The book flows steadily once the characters are all fully introduced and the story is fluent and easy to read. The characters are all likable once their back stories are all explained and I warmed to all of them especially Johnny and Abbie, though there weren't any I didn't like as they all contributed evenly to the intertwining stories.

      Slightly predictable but still a good effort from Mansell and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading her newest book once my friend gets a move on with it.


      *~*Miscellaneous*~*

      ISBN 978-0-7553-2822-2

      410 pages long

      UK RRP £7.99

      Headline publishing group

      First published 2010

      www.jillmansell.co.uk

      www.headline.co.uk

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        31.10.2010 13:54
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        Four stars from me - A very enjoyable read!

        I am a fan of Jill Mansell and have already read quite a few of her books so I thought I would give her most latest book a go. The title is Take A Chance On Me.

        Brief Plot Description

        Cleo Quinn is finally happy especially with her boyfriend Will and almost feels settled. However at a funeral she comes across her childhood nemesis, Johnny. He constantly tormented her when they were children and she hates him with a passion.

        Cleo also finds out that her sisters perfect life isn't so perfect after all and she soon realises that her own life is far from sorted either. Will she find her happy ever after?

        Characters

        Cleo is a great main character as you like her instantly and you are immediately on her side. She is also feisty especially with the character of Johnny. The two characters interact brilliantly and I thought the back story of when they were kids at school was a great idea.

        Johnny is also a great characters and Jill Mansell manages to bring him to life with her description of him. Cleo's Sister Abbie is great as a supporting character and her story within the book is very interesting and I was intrigued as to how it would end. Will is great as Cleo's boyfriend and adds to the book with some interesting twists and turns to the story.

        Book Details & Price

        Take A Chance On Me can be bought from Amazon for £4.29. I think Play.com are currently selling this book for around the same price. It may be worthwhile checking on find-book.co.uk to compare prices at various other online book retailers.

        My copy is a paperback and I bought my book from Asda for around £3.50 but it was on offer at the time.

        The book has 416 pages and is a paperback.

        Overall

        As I said earlier I have read quite a few books by Jill Mansell and I am always impressed with the minor plotlines regarding supporting characters. It's a shame I can't go into alot of detail regarding the characters as it would give quite a lot of the plot away.

        However I can say that they are interesting and also serve to break up the story. This way the main story running through doesn't get too boring. Therefore the main characters always seem more intriguing as the book doesn't just revolve around them.

        The story is great and even though you can pretty much see how it will end it is still great to read. The book is very easy going and light to read there are no complicated parts and the plot is fairly straightforward. There are a few twists and turns although a few can be seen coming.

        The book has plenty of funny moments that will leave you smiling especially the dialogue between Cleo and Johnny. You will definitely feel happier after reading this book.

        I would definitely recommend it epecially if you are a Jill Mansell fan, the story is light hearted and fun with great characters. The book probably isn't my favourite of Jill Mansell's as I probably prefer An Offer You Can't Refuse and Rumour Has It a bit more. However it is still a very enjoyable read and I found that I couldn't put it down as I had to know what the conclusion to the story would be.

        This book would be perfect for a lazy day or by the pool on holiday!

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          24.10.2010 16:06
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          A disappointing book by Mansell

          Take a Chance on Me is popular chick-lit author Jill Mansell's latest novel.

          It tells the story of Cleo Quinn who has the misfortune of learning that Johnny LaVenture with whom she had a love-hate relationship as a teenager, has returned to their home village of Channing's Hill after the sudden death of his wealthy playboy father. He wastes no time in reigniting the resentment between them which both infuriates and intrigues Cleo. Alongside all of this, she has a new boyfriend, but even he may not be all that he seems.

          Cleo's sister Abbie seems to have it all sorted with a loving marriage despite the fact that they have been unable to have children. However, Abbie comes across a revelation which relates to their lives 18 years previous and sends her into freefall and sets off a potentially disastrous chain of events.

          The sisters' lives are then further disrupted by a number of different characters who threaten to upset the fragile fabric of their lives forever.

          I have read a number of Mansell's books in the past and whilst they have always been particularly lightweight, they have generally been quite engaging in their own way. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this one.

          In essence it just is not very interesting and at worst, just a little bit lazy. The characters are all by-numbers or caricatures and to be completely honest a lot of then just merge into one after a while. There is always a certain amount of predictability with this type of novel, especially with the romantic elements but here it is particularly unsuspenseful and to be quite frank dull.

          The novel itself is overlong, and it feels like Mansell certainly had a much better time writing it than I had reading it. She has really gotten bogged down with characters who are not particularly interesting or engaging and interact with each other in a really formulaic way so there is no real tension and therefore interest to be really gained from it.

          There are some moments of gentle humour, particularly between secondary characters Ash and Fia but this is all too fleeting unfortunately. Mansell is quite a prolific writer, but is quite apparent that she has overstretched herself with this one and could have perhaps taken a bit more time to develop something which is just more interesting.

          The chicklit genre is one which you could argue is pretty oversaturated when it comes to books and authors. Mansell has always been one of the better and more successful authors but this book indicates a certain level of complacency which she will have to get over if she is to remain successful.

          I was not expecting a masterpiece by any means but I still have to say that I was quite disappointed and actually could not get wait to get to the end of the book just so that i could finish it. It is not awful, mansell is a decent enough writer but it is quite frankly, just not good enough!

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            21.08.2010 21:48

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            A great summer read!

            Take a Chance on Me tells the story of Cleo and her sister, Abbie. Cleo has had a pretty disastrous love life so far but she believes she has finally met Mr Right. However, things go very wrong when she finds out that Will has been keeping a secret from her. But at least her childhood nemesis, Johnny LaVenture, is being a lot more friendly to Cleo now. Meanwhile, Abbie finds out about a secret that her husband is keeping from her that could lead to the end of their happy marriage.
            I really like the way the author describes the characters in Take a Chance on Me. They are all believable and likeable, with Abbie being my favourite. Although Cleo is the main focus of the book I was drawn in straight away by Abbie's story. I feel that Jill Mansell beautifully captures the heartache experienced by Abbie in her quest to start a family and this storyline makes way for some very thought-provoking, and at times heartbreaking, moments.
            Cleo's side of the story provides most of the laughs and romance in the book and brings in some light relief from the sad events in Abbie's life. Although I found the ending to be pretty predictable I still really enjoyed it - I do love a happy ending.
            Overall, a great summer read that will make you laugh and cry, with a happy ending that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. This is the first Jill Mansell book I have ever read and I will definitely be on the lookout for some more very soon.

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            31.07.2010 11:24
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            A book to take on holiday with you and you won't be able to put it down

            Cleo Quinn has never had much luck when it comes to love, so when Will Newman (her New-Man!) comes along, this could be it. But fairly shortly afterwards things take a turn for the worse when one her old school mates Johnny LaVenture comes back to the village. They didn't get on well at school and Cleo is not happy about the idea.

            Although the story is mainly written from Cleo's point of view, it also tells the story of her sister Abbie and her husband Tom. They have been together forever and have been unsuccessfully trying for a baby. The one day, Abbies world comes crashing down with an unexpected twist in the story. I didn't see it coming at all, but when I thought about it, it seemed quite far fetched. Yes, it could well have happened and it was certainly possible but did seem a little out of the ordinary.

            This is the first book I have read by Jill Mansell and I really really enjoyed it. It was a classic chick flick novel with the inhabitants of a small village all fancying each other but not fancying the same people. Most of them have been together since school and I felt the characters were really built up through a lot of flashbacks.

            The story starts with a funeral, which may seem a little bit of a depressing way to start a book but actually it was really clever. It set the story up really well because it gave the characters a chance to explain themselves through flashbacks to childhood, which is what is done at funerals when the guests reminisce about the good times. I did however feel it was slightly muddled as you were just getting into the book and there were all these flashbacks to the past.

            One of the best things about this book are the characters. The story flits between all the characters getting all their views on the story and I felt they were built up really well. The story flowed which is good because sometimes when there is too much flitting between characters the story sometimes gets a bit lost. But this one didn't, it spent enough time on one character and one episode in their life and then moved on to the next one. But there was not too much time spent on each character that you forgot where you were.

            There were many unexpected things that happened throughout the book which the reader could not predict. Some of them did seem a bit far fetched and were perhaps only added to add excitement to the story. I can't imagine that that many things would happen to people in a small village, but it kept the reader hooked so it didn't matter too much.

            I didn't really like the ending. The thing with endings as that you know they are coming because you are getting towards the end of the book and the amount of pages left is quickly diminishing. And this one happened a bit too quickly. I felt it was too much of a happy ending, and although it tied up all the lose ends of the story as was necessary, but it was a bit predictable and a bit of an anti climax. I felt like I wanted something more to happen after I had read the last words, but I am not exactly sure what.

            Overall I really enjoyed this book and I couldn't put it down. It was set in Bristol and the surrounding area which I liked because I know Bristol quite well. It made it easier to picture the surroundings and there were lots of places mentioned that I had been to. But this was only an advantage to those people who know the area. Otherwise it would be meaningless.

            Even though there was not much of a story line, just a lot of different romances blossoming I felt that this was a really good chick flick and it would be an ideal book to take on holiday or to curl up with on a night in.

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              22.06.2010 22:31

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              Another Fantastic book by Jill mansell and this has to be one of the best, Great read for taking on holidays or just relaxing somewhere quiet.. This is such a great, sweet, funny book about a lady called cleo who has no luck with men at all until she meets a nice guy called will. Wills seems perfect.. but is he??Cleo's sister Abbie and her husband Tom seem to have the perfect relationship to other people but abbie and toms 's relationship has become strained and distant , and abbie is determined to find out whats going on. Funny heartwarming book like i said read it you will love it.

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              08.06.2010 08:28

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              Easy chick lit reading

              This book is perfect for holidays or one of those days when you are stuck in bed not feeling very well. It's a good easy read with a charming story. A fancies B but B fancies C, C fancies D etc etc. The central character is Cleo, she drives a limo for a living, needless to day she has been unlucky in the love department. Johnny is the boy who tormented her at school and has come back to town for the funeral of his father, Cleo parades her new boyfriend Will (Who she hopes is "the One") in front of Johnny to show off. You can probably guess the rest! The downside is that it is all fairly predictable. (I sussed one of the characters by page 6) and nothing in the book came as a suprise. The stereotypical characters lacked any depth and I found myself only liking and caring about only one of them - Ash, the boy next door, he actually made me laugh. Having said all that, it was an enjoyable easy read,

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              21.02.2010 21:58
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              Another great read from Jill Mansell

              Cleo Quinn doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to men, but now Will's come along. Handsome and attentive, he could be her Mr Right. Things are definitely looking up for Cleo... apart from one small problem with a rather large ego. Johnny LaVenture, sculptor extraordinaire and her personal childhood nemesis, is back in Channing's Hill and tormenting her as if he'd never been away. Meanwhile Cleo's sister Abbie has a problem of her own - husband Tom has become distant and withdrawn, and she's determined to find out why. But will the shocking truth mean the end of their idyllically happy marriage? The sisters are about to discover that the past can come back to haunt you, and that love can flourish in the unlikeliest of places.

              I've really gotten into Jill Mansell's books when I first picked her novel "Rumour Has It" a couple of years ago, and since then I have really looked forward to her annual release. The past 2 books by Jill I have thoroughly enjoyed, so Mansell has set a bit of an expectation for herself in my opinion so I always hope that with each book she is going to get better and better, and luckily for me she has delivered once more! We got sent the cover by the publishers a few months ago, and since then I've been really excited to read this book, and when a copy landed on my doorstep a few weeks ago I immediately set to reading it because I just couldn't wait!

              Although the main story of the book follows young Cleo in her quest for love, I actually found that I was far more hooked by the story of her sister Abbie and the relationship between her and husband Tom. The story begins quite innocently with the pair desperate for their own child, but it moves quite fast into something far more shocking and I didn't expect at all the twist that comes along. I credit Mansell's writing for keeping you in one train of thought and suddenly shocking you with something else, and the new twist develops slowly through the book and made for very interesting reading.

              As usual, Mansell's female characters are very believable and likeable, and that's really the secret to her success. You can believe that each of these women are real, and that their story is one that you might actually hear about rather than something completely unbelievable, and I enjoy reading a more realistic story. Mansell moves along Cleo's story at a good pace, with the beginning with all the action happening quite quickly and the rest developing throughout the book and I think it came to the end in a timely manner, and didnt feel too rushed or slow which was great. Yes, its rather predictable but I didn't care, I just enjoyed the read.

              I don't usually comment too much on the setting of a book, but I really enjoyed the way this book was set in a quaint village that keeps itself to itself, because it allowed for not too many characters to become involved and was therefore able to focus itself much more on the characters that really counted. Mansell writes in such a way that you can picture the places in your mind as you read them from Cleo's little home to the fab pub that pops up regularly. It creates a proper little world for the book and I really enjoyed this.

              If you've read and loved Jill Mansell's books before, then you're going to love this one too. It sticks to what Jill knows works for her and that is great characters, an absorbing story and a great setting, all of which work together to create a fab read that you won't want to put down. I thought the cover was a little wishy washy at first and doesn't necessarily relate to what is found inside the book, but then you'll just be pleasantly surprised by the great twists along the way. Abbie's story has some darker hints to it than you might expect but I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the book and was so excited to see how it all ends. A brilliant read.

              Hardback released February 2010.
              ISBN: 978-0755328208
              RRP: £14.99

              Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com

              Thanks for reading.

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