Helen Chandler's debut Two For Joy is a book I have been looking forward to reading for quite a while now. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and when my review copy arrived, I was so excited to open it up and get stuck in. I don't what it was about it that made me really want to read it, but I loved the sound of the story and I was curious about the idea of things becoming more complicated for the characters... how could it get more complicated than how the story makes it sound?! I finished the book in just a couple of sittings, and here is why you must read Two For Joy this year!
Julia and Toby have been best friends for years, and Julia is sure she's always been a little bit in love with him, but is sure that he won't reciprocate her feelings. Toby's in a new relationship with dancer Ruby, but when it ends badly, he and Julia finally realise they are meant to be together and make things official between them. But soon after Toby gets a text that changes both his and Julia's lives forever - Ruby is pregnant. Toby feels he has to do the right thing and try to make things work with the mother of his child, and leaves Julia bereft. But when she makes a shock discovery, she realises things are going to get much, much more complicated...
I have to say that I really loved Julia from the beginning. She's a successful career woman, has got her ideal little house in London and is pretty content with her life, and her friendship with Toby, even though she wants a bit more from him. As the book progresses, and things happen between her and Toby, you feel happy along with her, her happiness really radiates from the pages and I love her optimism in the smallest things that happen. You then feel the real lows she feels, and I actually felt angry on her behalf at how Toby treated her once he had his news. I don't want to spoil the other twists and turns as I didn't expect them and enjoyed them being revealed in the book, but as Julia's other storyline develops, I just liked her even more, she was a really strong woman.
Toby, on the other hand, I really struggled to like. Yes, I know he was trying to do the right thing by Ruby and trying to support her through her pregnancy, but I felt the way he treated poor Julia was out of order and I disliked him because of that. Ruby was a bit of a complicated one - I really didn't like her attitude towards pregnancy and motherhood, but at the same time, you get a sense that there is something more going on with her and I really wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. We don't really see a huge amount of her in the book, but she doesn't come across in the best light throughout, even at the end when she made the decision that she did.
I have to say the idea of the story was a little bit unrealistic, that these things could happen as they did and the coincidences that do happen, but of course it just makes the book even more fun to read. I was happy for Julia because she got what she always wanted, but the way things happened weren't ideal. I also loved the inclusion of Julia's best friend Rose and her own story which was also very interesting. It certainly showed how marriage wasn't always all it cracked up to be, and that Julia's situation wasn't as bad as she may have feared. Their friendship was touching, and made a nice addition to the book. These are really the only 4 characters we meet in the book, but it works because they are all you care about and want to find out what's going to happen next in their inter-twined lives.
Chandler's writing was very easy to read, and I enjoyed how the story flitted about between Julia, Toby and Rub,y and Rose. Julia is certainly the main character, but the others are vital the story, and Chandler juggles them all with ease. She depicts scenarios which I am sure people will be able to relate to, and the emotions the characters go through in the book, especially Julia, are very real and you cannot help but feel them along with her. For a debut novel, this was brilliant, and I really did enjoy every page, I didn't want to put it down! Chandler is an exciting new voice in women's fiction, and this debut makes me very excited for what else she has to come. I hope you enjoy Two For Joy as much as I did, it was fantastic!
ISBN: 978-1444769296. Published by Hodder books on 6th June 2013. Pages: 320. You can also buy this as a paperback.
Thank you for reading, and to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitchloe.blogspot.com