I’m afraid for those serious readers out there that this is yet another frivolous post, but come on; everyone needs something to curl up with in a cosy corner somewhere away from the slush that seems to be creeping into every single pair of shoes I own. So I’ve decided you all need some guilty pleasure books to warm your cockles in case for some crazy reason you don’t like hot chocolate with marshmallows or straight-out-the-pan pancakes 😉
As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, Cecelia Ahern’s books are great for an easy, light but thoughtful read, and I’ve just read her latest – in hardback; yeah, get me 😉 – One Hundred Names.
Unfortunately, because it’s chick-lit, naturally it has a sappy heroine, in this case, journalist Kitty Logan, who has, in a scandal reminiscent of the McAlpine Newsnight humiliation, virtually destroyed her career.The one woman who has always believed in her, her mentor, is dying of cancer and at her bedside Kitty asks her the question: what’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to write? Constance directs her to a file buried somewhere among the clutter in her office, containing a single list of one hundred names. No explanation, no contact details, no nothing. But before Kitty can talk to Constance, it’s too late. On the verge of losing her job, best friend and her sanity, she takes on the crazy task of finding all these people and finding some way in which their stories connect. Of course, because this is a rom-com type of book, she not only ends up helping some of the people sort out their lives, but also solving all her own problems as well. Yay for lucky Kitty.
There’s nothing to really dislike about this book, apart from the incompetence of the protagonist, but it isn’t one of Ahern’s best like ‘P.S.I Love You’ or ‘The Book of Tomorrow’. However I did love some of the stories that Kitty discovers, like that of the Serial Proposer. I only wish Ahern had written more; she only has time to discover six of the 100 and I found their tales much more enjoyable than Kitty’s. But, saying this, Kitty’s narrative ties them all together, so I guess you can’t completely eliminate her. Shame.
As usual, the characters are beautifully crafted, and there’s that little tinge of mystery throughout the novel as to what Constance’s story really is that keeps you reading, even at some of the more slow-moving bits. Basically it’s great escapism; the story is reasonably gripping, there are loads of couples to root for (because what’s chick-lit without a perfect couple, right?!) and, as expected, there were some lessons to be gently learnt: you don’t need to be nasty to get ahead and everyone has a story to tell. Hooray for humanity, it always triumphs in the end (I’m feeling just a leetle bit cynical at the moment, as I’m watching Charlie Brooker’s ’Black Mirror’ which has possibly the most depressing outlook on the future of the human race of anything I’ve ever seen. But it’s good. So. Good. Seriously, go watch it now, the last series is all on 4OD – the second episode’s the best).
So…moving on from that tangent to my next escapist novel: ‘Happily Ever After’ by Harriet Evans.
Yet another ridiculously inept heroine, Eleanor Bee this time, finds herself without a job (of course), without a boyfriend (naturally) and without much intelligence, as far as I can tell, but obviously, fate gives a helping hand and gives her job at a publishing agency. The rest of the book charts her rise through the career ladder, her relationships and friendships both good and bad and her troubled family life.
Classic escapism, but with some brilliant twists that you actually can’t predict from the beginning (unlike most guilty pleasure books, where you can ear-mark exactly who the heroine will end up with from the first page), I do think this is one of the better chick-lit novels I’ve read, though not the best. One thing I was glad about was how quickly time passed; everything doesn’t take place over just one month, or one year, but almost thirty years which means that loads of the boring stuff is skipped over and you can move onto the juicy bits! Towards the end it took a little too long for the obvious central couple to get together but the way actual events, like Diana’s death, were incorporated into the story was very effective and made it seem that little bit more real. The best bit, however, was all the book-nerd references. Since Eleanor works in publishing, there are quite a few lovely bits on the amazingness of reading and of pretty and old books which made me happy 🙂 yay for books.
Hope you’ve enjoyed that; please please please recommend me any more guilty pleasure novels for me to immerse myself in, because ‘The Coming of the Third Reich’ by Richard Evans is taking me forever and I need something actually enjoyable. If I see the word ‘Nazi’ one more time, I might cry. Which is unfortunate, since I’m studying them for A-Level. And weeping in my history class could be very awkward.
And now I have two very exciting bits of news (for me, not for you. Sorry, but this is my blog 😉 ) I’ve just got tickets to see James McAvoy acting ‘Macbeth’ and for an after-show talk with the cast and I discovered that Roger Allam is playing Prospero in ‘The Tempest’ at the Globe, where I am both seeing many plays and working as a steward (come and say hi, if you’re around!) and I love Roger Allam so much because he is the original Javert, played Falstaff and acts in ‘Cabin Pressure’, one of the funniest radio programmes around. So yeah. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. And you should be excited too, because you get to read my reviews of them. ‘Hooray!’ I hear you say, in a non-sarcastic way. And if you are being sarcastic: