This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Alice Templeton is fed up. She’s fed up of rainy old England (especially the pigeons), fed up of being utterly broke, and definitely fed up of reading self help books to try and remember why she loves Nash, her domineering boyfriend. In a last-ditch attempt to improve their lives and save their relationship, Nash and Alice decide to emigrate to Australia. Which seems like a great plan until just before they leave, when Alice discovers that Nash has been unfaithful. Taking her life (and her beloved sewing-machine) in her hands, Alice gets on the plane alone and heads to Bondi Beach to stay with her cousins. As she discovers a new (and sunnier) way of life, Alice realises there are still questions to be answered: will she ever get her own clothing range, Vintage Alice, up and running? What on earth is “mateship”? And can she keep her hands off Joel, her gorgeous Australian cousin?
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This is a sweet book. It’s quite unusual for a novel nowadays not to follow the standard formula of there being some big drama/misunderstanding between the hero and heroine before true love can conquer all. Instead, this is a book that just tells a story, and it’s a very nice one. The start is a bit wobbly: the poverty in which Alice and Nash live seems exaggerated, and it’s pretty hard to believe that anyone would really resort to reading self-help books in front of their partner to work out whether the relationship’s working or not. But despite this, Alice is an endearing character who you can’t help but feel protective of, and it’s well worth reading on.
As the book gets into its stride the characters of Alice and Joel are interestingly and neatly developed; you feel you’ve learned a lot about them just by watching them interact with one another, rather than through any obvious description by the author. Although you can’t help feeling Joel is a bit too perfect to be true (does any man really, within hours of meeting a girl he likes, talk about “men, women, commitment, marriage, love, hearts and space”?) it’s hard not to like him, and once the scene has shifted to Australia the characters seem to relax into a much more natural interaction. The plot isn’t particularly strong, but there’s a certain originality to its straightforwardness, and you can’t help feeling that Should I Stay or Should I Go is a little like one of the self-help books Alice is so addicted to: it’s about finding out who you are and what makes you happy, even if you have to go as far as Australia to do it.
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