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The Only Way is Up jumped off the shelf at me when I saw it. The title grabbed me, but then seeing the graphics of a tea pot and cup, and reading the blurb, I was very interested in reading this novel. It looked like it dealt with issues in a light hearted way, and that seemed very appealing to me.
Matthews is not an author I have come across before, but she has created a very believable set of characters and a realistic situation in this novel. Published in 2011, it feels topical, and I was eager to get started on the book even though it was quite thick at nearly 500 pages.
The main characters in this novel are wealthy couple, Lily and Laurence Lamont-Jones. Having worked their way up in the world, their feet are swept from underneath them when Laurence loses his job. The first Lily knows about it is when they arrive home from a family break in Italy to find their lavish home boarded up by bailiffs.
They really have hit rock bottom when they are given a council house in the dodgy estate, Netherslade Bridge. Lily is horrified by her fall from grace, but luckily there is an angel to guide them through this difficult time in the form of their new nextdoor neighbour, the very chavvy but very genuine single mum, Tracey. A person who has nothing herself, but will share her last tin of baked beans to help her new friend out.
Suddenly, life is not quite so bad for the Lamont-Jones's, and they manage to form a new life from the remains of their new one, learning a few valuable life lessons along the way about the important things in life.
Overall, I really liked the characters of Lily and Laurence once I got over how stupid they had been trying to keep up with the Jones's when the going was so tough. I couldn't believe any self respecting parent would really not have a back up plan, but then again, I am not someone living in the lap of luxury, so it was harder to identify with them at that stage of life.
However, once they got used to their new impoverished lifestyle, I had to admire the way the couple pulled together to create a new safe haven for their family, and I though Matthews dealt well with the preconceptions people have about the characters you find in a council sink estate and managed to bring out a sense of community and genuine friendship from these slightly dodgy characters who Lily and Laurence would have avoided in a previous life.
I loved seeing how Lily and Laurence became more resourceful and had skills that they didn't even know they had. Occasionally I thought some of their actions (particularly the behaviour of Lily in her new working environment) were a bit unrealistic, and I didn't feel that her character would really act in the way being depicted by Matthews, but again, having never had the rug pulled from under me so drastically, I don't know how poeple would react in that type of situation, so perhaps I am being a bit critical of the plot.
This is a really decent novel - it was fairly quick to read, and I read it over a few hours while travelling about last weekend. I found that I was eager to pick up the book again after a short while to see what would happen next, and it was a very satisfactory read for me. Just gritty enough, slightly humourous in places, and quite realistic for most of the story. It is chick lit, but a bit grittier than your usual offerings, and more appealing to me because of that. I am definitely going to find some more of the novels written by this author to see if she writes as well in other contexts.
I am giving it 4 stars due to some of my issues thinking the characters sometimes acted in a way I didn't think they should, but I do highly recommend this one as an interesting story and being very readable.
I have read a few of Carole Matthews books before and have had mixed reviews about them. The Only Way Is Up is Carole Matthews new 2010 book release and was the only book shouting out to me from the shelves in WHSmiths this week!
At the start of this book we meet the Lamont-Jones family, who are on a very expensive holiday with their children and friends. Life couldn't be much more perfect a lovely holiday, beautiful house, cars, horses, money is just not an issue to this family, or so it seemed!
When the Lamont-Jones family arrive back home it soon becomes clear that their lives are not perfect at all. Laurence Lamont-Jones has lost his job and has stuck his head in the sand hoping something would come up but it never did. The problem is he never told his wife Lily of the trouble they were in so this all came as a shock to her. They went from the family living the high life to the family with nothing but the clothes they were standing in, in only 4 chapters!
This book follows the Lamont Jones family trying to start from scratch, which means the children now go to the local school, both Lily and Laurence have to get out and find themselves work, and also trying to make the best of their new council hope with the help of their great neighbour Tracey.
Question is after losing everything and after the lies can Lily ever forgive her husband for all that has happened.
This is one of my favourite Carole Mathews books along with the Chocolate Lovers club. The story has you gripped the whole way through the book. I sometimes find that with some books that I read you always seem to find there is a part of the book that dips and becomes uninteresting but I can honestly say that this is not the case with this book.
I found that I connected really well with each of the characters. We were given enough information about the characters which made me feel like I actually knew them. The charcter Tracey who is the next door neighbour was my favourite character in this book as I think most people have got a Tracey near where they live! She brought an element of humour to the book which gave the story a nice touch.
I found the small snippet at the beginning of the book showing you an insight into the Laurent-Jones old lives was a great touch giving just the amount of information we needed to appreciate what a hit they had taken by losing everything.
I would highly recommend this book. I was hooked from the first chapter and couldn't put it down as it was addictive to see how they are going to improve their lives in each chapter. I feel there was a hidden meaning to the book to try and tell us that there is more to life than money and that you get out of life as much as you put in.
This book is a must for your book list.
The Only Way Is Up by Carole Matthews was released in September 2010. Carole Matthews writes two books a year, and this is her second book in 2010.
The Lamont-Jones family lead a privileged life that others would envy. Unbeknown to Lily, her husband Laurence has lost his job and their home is repossessed along with with their assests. All that the family has is the clothes on their backs and items that they have in their suitcases, which they had taken on holiday. The Lamont-Jones family's new home is on a council estate which is well-known for all the wrong reasons. The Lamont-Jones children Hettie and Hugo, have led a sheltered life and have never seen how 'the other half live'. Without a penny to their name Lily and Laurence have to do all that they can to provide for their family, and try and adjust to their new lives.
The focus of the book is mainly on the family's new life, only the first few chapters are about the Lamont-Jones lives before they had lost everything. As with Carole Matthews previous books, the chapters are relatively short, which isn't a bad thing. The style is easy to read as are the books she has previously written.
Lily is the main character and is written in first person, and Laurence's character is written in third person. Laurence is a sweet man who adores his family and wants to provide for them. Lily is a likeable character though some readers might not agree with a couple of decisions thst she makes.
Parts of the book aren't completely believeable, but then it is only fiction.
I liked the fact that Carole Matthews looked at the community on council estate rather than stereotyping it's residents, who add humour to the story.
The Only Way Is Up is one of my favourite Carole Matthews books, and I would say that it was better than her last which was called Now or Never (released February 2010).
The Only Way Is Up is currently available on Amazon for £8.44 in paperback, and is also available in the (Amazon) kindle edition at currently £7.99 though prices may vary.