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I had not come across Jill Mansell before I read this novel, I selected it at random along with another book just because I wanted to do a bit more reading, but nothing too heavy. I bought "The One You Really Want....." in Sainsburys on a two books for £7.00 offer. Overall I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.
The story evolves around the lives of Nancy, Carmen, and then Mia and a circle of other characters that connects the main characters and keeps the story going. We are firstly introduced to Nancy, who is married and lives in Scotland, we come across Nancy at Christmas when she is talking on the telephone with her best friend Carmen, and they are discussing a very strange present that Nancy has received from her husband for Christmas. I did find this quite a funny start to a novel and wasn't quite sure where it was going to develop from this beginning, but it did surprise me and it did engage me. We are also introduced to Nancy's mother Rose. Despite beginning in Scotland the story moves quickly to London and this is where it is mostly centred.
Although the story begins with Nancy the main character, in my view, is Carmen and everything and everyone leads from and to her, she is the pivot to the story. Carmen is the widow of a pop star and although it is a few years from her husband's death she still has not addressed her grief and so is living her life in a kind of insulated bubble, not really interacting with anyone or actively partaking in her own life. Carmen is basically numb but we see her eventually start to get some stirrings and feelings back into her life. Carmen is very close to her dead husband's brother, Rennie, and he can see how deeply she is affected by the death of her husband. Rennie appears shallow but he does have hidden deaths. I did find him a very likeable character.
Next door to Carmen lives Connor, he has been living next door for a while but Carmen knows nothing about him, not even his name. We are introduced to Connor initially through Rennie, we then come across his young daughter Mia. Connor is an Irish business man living and working in London, Mia moves from Ireland to live with him so we watch their relationship develop. Connor's life then becomes intertwined with Nancy and her group of friends.
The story is quite good, it is well written and easy to read. The characters are engaging and you do become interested in them and what is happening with them. There are some very funny moments in this story and some more emotional episodes and overall I found it a good read. I would definitely read some more of Jill Mansell's work.
The novel is 470 pages long, my copy is paperback and I bought it in Sainsbury's on a 2 for £7.00 deal. The book is published by Headline.
'The One You Really Want', written by Jill Mansell in 2004 is a book I was given by a friend who was having a clearout. Seeming as though it was going to be a bit of a light-hearted chick-lit, I was looking forward to a relaxing read. The back cover of the book told me it was about Nancy, who suspects her husband is cheating on her, Carmen (Nancy's best friend) who gave up on love after being widowed, and Mia - a young girl who has just arrived to live in London with her single dad. It sounded like a fun read with three main characters all with a story to tell.
Rather than there being three main female characters however, I felt that Nancy and Carmen were more central to the book than Mia or any other characters involved. This suited me just fine as Nancy and Carmen were interesting enough to keep me wanting to carry on reading.
The book begins with Nancy being very surprised to have received a lawn-mower as a Christmas present rather than jewellery. This is because long before Christmas she found evidence that her husband had in fact purchased some very expensive diamonds. If she hadn't received them from him, who had? Not too slowly the story untangles and we find out exactly what he has been up to. We then are led through the journey that Nancy takes to get life back on track. Her story is very enjoyable, and unpredictable with a bit of humour thrown in every now and again to keep things lively.
Carmen is Nancy's best friend, and they spend a lot of time together after Nancy's life starts to get complicated. During this time we learn a lot about Carmen's own struggles and her difficulty with dealing with the death of her famous, rock-star husband who died of a drug overdose. It has been three years since his tragic death, but in that time Carmen has not been involved with anyone else. I found Carmen's character very interesting to read about too, and the ups and downs that she went through as she began to rediscover the opposite sex again.
The best thing about 'The One You Really Want' is that it is full of surprises. I am afraid I do sometimes stereotype chick-lit and think that I will figure out what happens at the end and that chick-lit novels are generally quite predictable, but I can honestly say that several times throughout this book I was unsure how things would turn out. I would sometimes get to a point and think 'ah I bet this happens next' or 'bet she ends up with so and so' but then I was always proved wrong, which definitely made it a captivating read, as I just wasn't sure what might happen next.
The end of the book was fairly good. I don't want to spoil it for anyone that is thinking of reading this for themselves, but I will say that it turns out well for Nancy and Carmen, even though 'well' wasn't necessarily in the way you thought it might be!
The length of this book is 470 pages - so a fairly long book but nothing excessive. I felt the length was just right as I enjoyed it right up until the very last page! In summary I would say that anyone who enjoys a little romantic chick-lit every now and again will like this book and even if you don't usually go for this genre you might still like it!
You can buy 'The One You Really Want' for £0.01 (Plus p+p) used or new.
Thanks for reading!