Sunday, August 11, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell -- Contemporary Romance

When Millie saves the life of the famous author Orla Hart, Orla decides to repay Millie by making Millie the heroine of her new novel. Thanks to a bad review, Orla is determined to show the world she can write something different and real. Millie thinks her life is boring and no one will ever want to read about her life. Then she finds a lost wallet. Millie thought it would be funny to play a prank on the wallet's owner, until she found out his wife died six months ago. She feels horrible about her prank and can't bring herself to tell Orla. Millie attempts to make amends and discovers that Hugh Emerson is young, attractive, funny, nice and determined never ever to fall in love again. Of course Millie can't help falling in love. She's determined not to love a man who can't love her back. She keeps busy working as a singing/roller skating singing gorilla gram for the object of her best friend's teenage dreams. When Hester discovers Lucas is back in town, all her old feelings return. She's lonely with her boyfriend Nat, a chef, away in Scotland and is determined to find out if Lucas, a notorious womanizer, returns her feelings. Orla eats up Hester's story but wants more spice in Millie's life and attempts to play matchmaker though her own marriage is shaky. To make matters worse for Millie, her mother is back in Cornwall living with Millie's dad and his new wife. Millie's mom, social climbing, man-chasing, intellectual snob is an embarrassment to her daughter but just doesn't care. Hugh finds Millie interesting but he's determined not to risk his heart again and besides, he could never betray his late wife. It seems as if Orla's story won't have the fairy tale ending she wants. Like all of Jill Mansell's books, this story is funny, sweet and a bit sad at times. I really enjoyed the plot and even though it's a "chick lit" novel and I knew how it would end, getting there was fun. There are a lot of funny moments and some really sweet ones. There are a few cringe-worthy moments but I thought they were done for laughs and played out OK. I liked Millie because she's an average woman. She's ordinary looking, not super talented at anything and struggles to find her way. Aside from two embarrassing moments in the beginning, she's respectful of Hugh's feelings. I liked Hugh too but he wasn't super developed. He's a grieving widower which Jill Mansell has done before. I like his sense of humor and the fact that even though he's super gorgeous, he's a nice guy who falls for the nice girl. Their romance develops at a good pace. They become friends and get to know each other and understand each other. I did not like the secondary characters at all. Orla resembles Jane Austen's Emma in that she's a busybody and a matchmaker, but she's entirely unappealing. I found her very annoying. Orla isn't half as bed as Adele, Millie's mom or even Hester, Millie's best friend who is super irritating. I thought I had Lucas all figured out but I was mostly wrong about him. He does have some redeeming features and a story about him might be interesting. The only secondary characters I liked were Nat and Millie's dad. They're both patient, loving and kind. My major beef with this story, aside from rehashed character types, is the married couples. Without spoiling too much, it seems like the author has a low opinion of marriage. I would have liked to see less stereotypical characters in this novel and better developed relationships among the married couples. I enjoyed this novel the best of the Jill Mansell books I have read so far. I would give it 3 3/4 stars (out of 5) and recommend it to fans of "chick lit."

The Moffats  by Eleanor Estes -- Children's Classic
The Moffats are a family of six (Mother and four children) living in a suburban Connecticut neighborhood in the 1930s. Jane, the second to youngest, can hardly remember a time when they didn't live in the little yellow house. Mother struggles to make ends meet but the children are content. They have their ups and downs but they're a close knit family. When the landlord puts a for sale sign on their home, life as they know it will never be the same for the Moffats. There's not much to say about this book. I enjoyed it as a child and read the entire series. I liked it this time around. It's a quick read, very simple and gentle. The story is told from Jane's point-of-view and presents a child's eye view of the world. It's sweet and funny in some places. It's not quite as charming as The Melendy Family series but in the same style.

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