Jill Mansell comes to the blog today with a woman’s fiction story originally released in 2001, this audio version is narrated by Charlotte Anne Dore . Please read on for my review of
One thing that must be noted in every Jill Mansell book is the characters – many of her characters get a POV and this one is no exception, and often her stories are wordy – at over 400 pages and 15 + hours of listening time, these aren’t quick escape for a few hours books – these are perfect for that long rainy weekend getaway when you want to find somewhere else to be with someone else’s troubles. In this book we have Janey, two years after her husband’s disappearance without a reason why, her life is moving forward (mostly) even as she is stalled in second-guessing her own life and herself as compared to her younger, thinner, and spontaneous little sister Maxine. And Maxine’s arrival in the little Cornish village, at 2 am, is unexpected to say the least. Maxine is flighty, selfish, a bit boy crazy but she brings a bit of lightness to Janey, and the two have a good relationship. Add in an uber-hot photographer, the girls mother, a guy who needs to be left out with the trash, a solid man with good intentions and a handful of morally questionable partnerships and a bit of competition for the next big ‘romance, and you have the story.
Not without issues, the multiple POV that is so characteristic of Mansell’s writing worked well here, but the endless back and forth, or actually stalled without progress over-sharing and over-thinking didn’t help with the flow of the story for either Janey or Maxine- and it actually felt as if there were more moments that could have used less words and tell, and far more show. A solid example of what ‘chick lit’ was with the interpersonal relationships, a main character’s growth and a chance for new romance, even if it is secondary to the self-discovery. A bit dated in the feel of the story, and again would find benefit in editing and tightening up the plotting arc, the story was not what I hoped for.
Narration for this story is provided by Charlotte Anne Dore, and her work managing the various points of view, the heavy word count and switching perspectives and tone / accent / timbre to aid in delineating characters wasn’t as deft as I would wish for. These are character-heavy stories with multiple points of view that require an ease and facility with voices and the ability to differentiate one from the other, or to go in the opposite direction and simply ‘read’ the words as written – this was an odd mix of the two, resulting in a rather flat audio experience.