I read this after seeing it advertised in Waterstones, and at the start didn't like it at all. Rachel is a vain, self obsessed woman who repeatedly tells you how good she looks, and how perfect her life is. So you aren't instantly overcome with sympathy when she sleeps with a man from the office and falls pregnant, although I couldn't help but wonder how she'd cope with a baby!
A few chapters in, however, and Carbin has created a much more likeable character, who you'll actually care about. The book gives a fresh and welcomed look at unexpected pregnancy, and how Rachel comes to terms with it and decides what to do.
The book is written in an unusual first person way, and it's really conversational, which does help you to bond with Rachel. It's smooth and easy reading, and quite funny, once you get past her ego! There are some unexpected twists and turns, and it'll keep you reading til the end. It won't win any prizes, but its chic lit at its best.
Despite the fact that I should spend all my time reading education and teaching books to help with my University course I find that at night time I simply have to read what I like to refer to as a reading book. In simple terms I really mean a book that I actually enjoy and one that has some sort of story running throughout it which I can really get my teeth into. I've pretty much exhausted my local library's selection of books and have had to start resorting to requesting inter-library transfers in order to get my hands on new books. However a couple of weeks ago I hadn't managed to find anything on the website and so decided to select a book off the shelves that looked like relatively easy reading.
I selected a book by Debbie Carbin who was an author I'd not previously come across. She's English born and only started her writing career quite recently, although on her website she does refer to her first ever book which she completed when she was just six years old! Thanks for Nothing Nick Maxwell is her debut novel which was released in the UK in March 2008 and since then has been published the USA and also has been published in several other languages. It currently sells on Amazon for £4.79 (or from 1p upwards for a used copy) although it has a recommended retail price of £5.99. Her second novel was released in March 2009 and is entitled Three Men and a Maybe.
The basic plot line of the story is one which follows Rachel, a good looking girl in her mid twenties who lives a relatively carefree life. She works in a sales job where she is responsible for selling holidays over the phone; she's very good at her job and prides herself on being near the top of the league. Her biggest pleasure in life is her good looks which she tells the reader about very early on and she uses these good looks to get pretty much any man she can. It's clear she's a bit of a user of men, she gets the men to dote on her and then simply flicks them to the side when she's had enough. She's young, free and with no attachments whatsoever... that is until she meets Nick Maxwell and winds up pregnant!
The book plot has been described as the following by OK magazine:
"Rachel's perfect yet somewhat selfish existence as a party-loving gal can't get any better. But then she meets Nick and suddenly her harmonious life is turned upside down when she discovers she's pregnant."
The plot then continues to follow Rachel as she finally realises that the changes in her hunger and sleeping patterns, plus her changing body shape, is down to something more than a virus. As the book progresses we see her begin to come to terms with her impending pregnancy while she deals with other situations such as discovering her best friend's husband is having an affair with someone and the strange encounter she has with a mysterious, but terribly irritating, man in the supermarket. The book follows her through the whole nine months of her pregnancy from start to finish and a whole other dish of events.
When I started the book I wasn't impressed, I think the first time I read it I covered about fifteen pages and I can remember thinking it wasn't really that great. The start didn't hook me in at all but merely made me a little irritated with the vainness of the main character Rachel. However as time went on I found I did enjoy the book, the nine month duration was smoothly covered in the four hundred and eighty pages. As there was something to track (the pregnancy) there was quite a quick pace to the novel which meant that whole weeks were covered in a couple of sentences while other events were more in depth.
The first impression I gained of Rachel, the main character, was that of an arrogant and vain young woman. Someone that the majority of the female population would take an instant dislike to the moment she looked in the direction of their boyfriend or husband. Add to that the fact that we first meet her when she's gloating over how she's just finished having intimate relationships with someone and admittedly, she seems a rather unlikely heroine. My first impression was to roll my eyes at her in that typical you're so up yourself kind of way but you're actually a silly and vain cow. However my impression did change...
She'd clearly met her match in the form of Nick Maxwell who was, quite simply put, the male version of Rachel herself, and it was nice to see her get a taste of her own medicine as such. As the story progressed I became more and more interested in her, not only to see how she'd deal with discovering she was pregnant, but also in seeing her character change and mature through the book. I'm still not sure how I ended up starting to care about "one of the best looking people you'll ever meet" (Rachel's own words in the book) but nevertheless I did and I genuinely wanted things to work out for her in the end.
The most refreshing thing about this novel was Rachel's actual account of her pregnancy, the majority of books look at either the positive side or the negative side of it although here she gave a convincing and honest account of how confused and scared she was feeling. She talked about how her body was changing and how much she was using the toilet, in the most honest of ways that made it clear that the author herself certainly had children! It was a fresh and funny account of pregnancy, one that would probably have a few men going yuck although it wasn't too descriptive and there wasn't anything truly yuck!
The one thing that I did find annoying throughout the book was the fact that the author had written it as if Rachel was talking directly to us, the reader. Throughout the book, in every chapter, she made reference to "you" and the whole thing was written in a very conversationalist manner which just irritated me if I'm honest. For example, "I'll show you my office later. Make sure you have a look at the performance tables. They're over by Jean's desk, pinned up on the wall. You'll see that my name is always in the top three, week in, week out." It was just a little awkward, a little forced and I didn't like it.
There's no doubt that this is your typical chick lit, there's a romantic thread running throughout the novel although by adding the somewhat surprise pregnancy to the mix it does help to make this book stand out from your typical chick lit books. It was a page turner and well written, I finished it within a week and read a bit of it each night which is a good sign. I did have a slight niggling feeling throughout that I had read something quite similar before although I can't quite remember what or when. It's really easy reading and it was quite enjoyable, I'm giving it four stars as it looses one for the irritating style!
Thanks for reading.
I loved the style of this book without necessarily agreeing with the message. Rachel is a single woman, young and attractive (or at least that's how she'd describe herself to you):
"I (am) easily the best looking person in telesales, if not the building. I'm not being big-headed, it's just the way it is."
When she winds up pregnant from a one night stand (naturally with a super stud, that only a woman of her immense beauty could reel in) she has a big, if slightly predictable, decision to make. You might think that because she winds up pregnant within the first chapter, and the book goes on for a further 450 pages, it's pretty clear which option she goes for, but this isn't a book where time runs at a standard, even rate. Some chapters can cover an hour in her life, while others can whiz through weeks or months at a time, so she keeps you guessing about which way she's going to go for some time, and the first 3 months of conception take a lot longer to go over than the remaining 6 months. It even takes her a while to realise that she is pregnant (though for readers the clues are not so much subtle as right there in front of you). There was a happy sing-song voice in my head that was happily sing-songing "you're gonna get pregnant" for several chapters before she finally woke up to the situation. This wasn't because Rachel is an especially horrible character, because really she's quite nice and funny, but because she just seemed so dense about what was going on, and the self-appreciation was beginning to grate.
Starting from the appearance of that dreaded blue line on the pee stick onwards, the story becomes a real fish-out-of-water tale. Rachel herself is, to quote her once more, the sort of person who will do hair and make-up before going for a swim. She's single, slim and sexy and quite happy being those things, thank you very much. The way she sees it, there's those that do and those that don't - have children that is - and she's always been firmly ensconced in the latter camp. Having seen what motherhood has done to one of her friends she has no desire to experience it for herself, and being a potentially single mum at 25 was certainly never something she (or most people) dreamed of.
With the father out of the picture (and that's a first - he didn't call again after their date... but with Rachel they always call), she's facing pregnancy alone until a chance meeting with a stranger in a supermarket leads to an odd, yet strangely satisfying, friendship developing. However this isn't just any stranger - he's already involved with some of her friends and their family, she just doesn't know it - leading to an unfortunate light-bulb moment seconds after revealing what was supposed to be some relatively anonymous gossip.
This book is a must for fans of Sophie Kinsella because the writing style is just so similar - easy to read and very funny, with some lively, lovable characters. One thing Rachel also does though is break the fourth wall repeatedly, and uses this opportunity to bring you up to speed on the story, or to flit backwards or forwards in time. This was unusual and slightly unnerving (I've not seen it done so much since the days of Saved By The Bell), but did work in the context of this story.
A star docked for naivety and slight self-involvement on Rachel's part, coupled with not so much the lack of contraception, but more the fact that no one mentioned it, even after the event. Other than that a fun, easy read that makes you envy her life while at the same time thrills you that you're not in the same predicament she is.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk under my name.
Although the to-be-read list of books in my bedroom is growing far more quickly than I can ever hope to read the books, I still can't resist buying the odd books which appeal to me! I had read a review of this one online a while ago and felt that it sounded like something I'd enjoy, so I took advantage of a Buy-One-Get-One-Free in WH Smiths, and so for the overall price of £4 the book was mine. I finally got around to reading it about a week ago, and so here comes my review!
Rachel Covington works as a Sales Rep for a holidays company, and is one of the top performers in her section. She knows that she's quite attractive and uses it to her advantage to get the men she wants, them dumps them when she's had enough. But Rachel finds herself in a role reversal when she's realises she's fallen for Nick Maxwell, a colleague at her company. The two have a dalliance together and the result is Rachel's life changing forever...courtesty of the baby growing inside of her. Will Rachel be able to give up her beloved single life to become a mother?
The book dives straight in with Rachel's first person narrative, giving the reader a great introduction to her.The first chapter really introduces us fully to Rachel, and gives a hint at the unfolding story to come. The narrative is very upbeat, and really easy to read, because it is written incredibly well - it feels like the character is speaking directly to you, and the writing is so friendly, it is a pleasure to read. The book carries on in this friendly, open narrative throughout the whole book. The style worked, but of course, there are a few bits about the book I didn't like!
Rachel, on the whole, is a likeable character - she's friendly, funny and is a pleasant lead character. However, she is incredibly arrogant about herself, and her looks in particular, and I found these self-loving parts a little awkward to read, and I just didn't feel comfortable with how great Rachel clearly thinks she is. It's a shame as she is likeable for the majority of the book, but these bits are so awful, it really lets her character down a lot. The other main character of the book is Hector, a mysterious man Rachel meets courtesy of Sainsburys and a mobile phone. The slowly unfolding story between these two is a lovely one, developing at a good, although sometimes frustrating, pace. Hector is almost the opposite of Rachel, a loving family man, very caring and isn't at all arrogant. But the two strke up a friendship and it slowly develops, with this storyline going on right up until the last page.
Hector was so likeable, and it was really his character and the storyline between he and Rachel that made me want to keep reading! Other characters in the story are Glenn and Sarah. Sarah is one of Rachel's best friends and mum to a young boy called Jake, and Glenn is her husband. There is another storyline involving this family in the book too, which is quite good but not that gripping. There is the odd twist and turn in the book which makes for reading, but nothing too amazing, its just a pleasant read.
One thing I did enjoy about the book was Rachel and her pregnancy. The author has clearly researched or taken from personal experience the shock of finding out you are pregnant, and the different emotion that you go through, right from the minute of realisation to the birth of the child. Rachel goes through the emotions the same as any woman does, and these are very well written. You feel things along with Rachel, and her honesty about it all is refreshing, and it doesn't skip through anything. It is these scenes which I feel added something to the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed Rachel's narrative throughout her pregnancy. Hector's involvement is also well dealt too, the author really did go to a great effort to make these scenes realistic and very enjoyable for the reader.
Thanks For Nothing... is a great read, and really falls straight into the chick-lit category. It's a fun read, which has a great friendly narrative throughout, with a set of pretty likeable characters (for the most part) and an interesting story which develops throughout the book, leaving you hanging right up until the end. It's well written, with good characters, and I feel the author is going to be pretty successful in the chick-lit genre! A very pleasant read, and one I would certainly recommend.
ISBN: 978-0552774161. Published by Black Swan in March 2008. The paperback copy contains 480 pages. Available from Amazon for £4.69, or the Marketplace for £1.97. This is Debbie Carbin's debut novel, and for more about her, visit her website, www.debbiecarbin.com.
Thank you for reading!