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It was the blurb on this one that had me interested, mentioning Fran's 30th birthday (mine was a few months away when I read it last year) and the fact she's bluffed her way into a very posh job (something some might say I'd just done too). I thought we might be kindred spirits and even if we weren't, I thought I might be signing up for some fun, flirty chick lit which is never a bad thing.
Sometimes you want to put your life on hold to read a really good book, but with this one it was the opposite and I wanted to put it down and go back to living life, such was my lack of interest in the characters. Fran needs a good slap and although her friends help liven things up a little, and the cat's not half bad, they weren't enough to rescue the ambitiously long story.
Following a quasi-breakup from her boyfriend, Fran is forced by her friends to go cold turkey and not contact him for a few months, during which time they have another plan for her. But will she cope with it all, does she have the will power to forget about him and is her mother, the alcoholic, just going to mess things up (again)? Given the nature of the book, you know the answers to these questions almost as soon as you ask them, and there are few surprises to come.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of the book, because it definitely had its moments but they were just that, short lived moments that detracted from the monotony but only for a few short minutes at a time. I think my biggest issue was with Fran working in the media - the way she's described to readers nothing could seem less likely than her being able to land, let alone hold down, a job like that. The group were too eclectic for me to buy into their continued friendship, and things like their reference to Gin Thursdays smacked of trying too hard to show how hip and cool they were, in fact having the opposite effect. I really liked the sections overseas but sadly these were over too quickly and replaced with far less interesting London. Not that London's not fab, but Fran's London seemed a bit blah for my liking.
If I'd had any sense I'd have thrown in the towel when I came across the line "You're not leaving Kosovo till this Michael has popped his truncheon up your luncheon" but that was only in chapter 3 so although it was mega cringe, I decided I would persevere. That was perhaps the lowest of the low points in terms of the writing, but there were other crude moments and a lot of swearing . I don't object to that sort of thing outright if it adds to the story or is included for effect, but it seemed overused here and crude rather than witty or genuine.
A highlight for me was something other reviewers have slated, the bit where Fran goes a little into stalker mode in an attempt to set eyes on the new woman in her ex's life. Not only was it quite funny, but it seemed brilliantly realistic too given the state of mind Fran had found herself in at that point. Sadly that was one of the few highlights of a book that otherwise was predictable and way too long.
The incessant switching back and forth between 2008 and 2010 threw me, not least because I kept forgetting the years involved and would not get confused by whether 2010 was 2 years in the future of then, or 2 years in the past of now, pre- or post- Michael in Fran's terms.
In the end I just about finished it, but I can't say it wasn't a struggle or that I wasn't a little disappointed. It's readable but not a must read, perhaps one to pinch off a friend or pick up at the library rather than invest in.
Out now in paperback and on Kindle. Last seen in a charity shop.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
Poor Fran, she thinks her boyfriend, Michael, is going to propose to her the day when what he actually has planned is to announce that he wants to not see or hear from her for 3 months, that much we learn in the first few pages of this book. Fran does what perhaps any broken hearted 30 year old would do and turns to alcohol and her bed for comfort whilst her trusty friends, the steadfast Dave, Leonie her BFF and the eclectic Stefania plan how to move her on from the edge of despair. With a career in broadcasting to distract her, the ritual of "Gin Thursdays" with her mates maybe the 8 date treatment her friends come up with will be enough to jolt her out of despair and get her to consider life without Michael? What follows is a humourous, pacey and interesting story that firmly ticks all the boxes in the chick lit genre.
I might have seen the ending of this book coming from a long way off, however that didn't mean that I didn't enjoy the ride. I thought that the ever so slightly gawky heroine Fran was likeable and well drawn and the author managed to make you feel like you would want to be one of her gang. Some of the situations that arose from Fran's internet dating were laugh out loud funny and the book didn't drag in any parts at all - it's one you will want to read. The realistic and rather peppered with expletives dialogue might not appeal to everyone but I thought it was in keeping with the story. Overall this debut novel was worth the read and is probably going to appeal if you are a fan of chicklit, here despite some of the tale being what you might expect from this kind of book the author managed to keep the story fresh-seeming and interesting - recommended.
Currently available for £4.38 from Amazon - I read a review copy
It's Fran's thirtieth birthday and things are good . . . She's bluffed her way into a Very Posh Job and her outlandishly handsome and talented boyfriend Michael is escorting her to the Ritz with a bulge the shape of a ring box in his pocket. But something has gone wrong. Very wrong. By the end of the evening Fran is howling in bed with a bottle of cheap brandy and one of Michael's old socks. In her quest to figure out why her life has suddenly gone down the pan, Fran comes up with a failsafe plan: live like a badger, stalk a stranger called Nellie and cancel her beloved Gin Thursdays in favour of drinking gin every night. But then Fran's friends force a very different plan on her and it's nowhere near as fun. How could eight dates possibly make her feel better? But eventually she agrees. And so begins the greatest love story of all time . . .
Lucy Robinson's debut novel is one I've been looking forward to for a while now, so when I received a review copy through the post, I eagerly got stuck in. I was surprised to see that the cover has been changed from the lovely blue that was originally mooted to a more bland beige cover that frankly doesn't do any justice to the funny and fabulous story inside, but still, don't judge a book by its cover as the old saying goes, and I am glad that I didn't. It's a fun and heartfelt look at what happens when the love of your life leaves you without you expecting it, and I really did enjoy every page.
The book is the story of Fran, who is devastated when her boyfriend Michael tells her that they need to take a break on the very night Fran is expecting a romantic proposal from him. She decides to hibernate in her bed until her friends come over and make her get up, get back to work and start dating again, very much against her will. Her best friend Stefania decides she has to date a few men before making a decision about ex-boyfriend Michael when they next meet again a few months down the line but Fran isn't sure. She's also got problems with her alcoholic mother, problems at work and a huge lack of self-confidence - will Fran decide it's better the devil you know than better the devil you don't, or is her greatest love story waiting around the corner?
I really enjoyed the book from the very beginning and found it easy to get into. The main character Fran was really likeable, you could feel her pain at suddenly being dumped and not knowing why, and I certainly understood her reluctance to get back on the dating scene. She was really just a nice girl with a broken heart and is the perfect heroine, even if at the end she is a little bit naive when anyone who reads it will see who she is meant to be with! One of the other main female characters, Stefania, Fran's foreign neighbour is hilarious and I loved the way Robinson writes her words exactly how she says them, accent and all!
The male characters in the book are interesting too, from her best friend and camera man Dave, to ex-boyfriend Michael who I thought was pretty horrible from the start! There's something lovely about Dave where I loved every scene he was in, and overall, the cast of characters was fantastic, and provided a lot of different stories for the book to get into, and they were all really believable as friends, which makes the book so much easier to read overall! The book is set in London, and I think Robinson writes it very realistically, and it was a nice setting for a book, especially since it's partially set in important London television studios, and I felt those parts of the book felt really realistic as I was reading.
There is quite a bit of swearing throughout the book which I wasn't keen on and found it unnecessary but that's just my personal preference. I don't think it added anything to the book, perhaps exacerbated Fran's anger but I prefer books without that. However, this wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book and I found it to be an easy and fun read overall. I loved Fran, and by the end, I'm sure you'll have strong feelings like I did about who you want Fran to end up with! I found the flashback scenes into Fran and Michael's old relationship really interesting and a good addition into the story, and found Robinson's writing style really easy to read and I sped through the book at a speed. I'd highly recommend this book, it's an easy and fun read that'll keep you turning the pages to see who Fran will end up with! A great book!
ISBN: 978-0241952986. Published by Penguin. Pages: 496. RRP: £6.99. Also available as an eBook.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com
Thank you for reading.