This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Cressida McLaughlin
Nell enjoys her planning job at Islington Council, and thinks she’s also ready to try again with her on-off boyfriend (and boss) Aidan. So when he calls her into his office one morning, she doesn’t expect to walk out having lost both her job and her man. At first she’s devastated, but she slowly begins to realise that, instead of wallowing in self pity, she could treat it as a chance to do something radical, something she has thought about but never had the time or money to do. She finds herself in the travel agent, and then calling her cousin Lizzie in San Francisco, and then booking a flight.
Once there, Nell is thrust into a new world of colourful buildings, bustling, busy streets and piers, famous sights and seventeen varieties of French Toast in Annie’s American diner. She has the time and space to think about what she really wants to do, and to try and forget about Aidan. But she isn’t entirely prepared for the opportunities her holiday destination is about to offer her.
I’m a huge fan of Miranda Dickinson and have loved her previous novels, so I’d been looking forward to this book for a long time. I’ve never been to America, but San Francisco is described in such vivid, colourful detail. I could fully picture all the different areas Nell visits, and felt like I was exploring it along with her. When she arrives, she’s facing huge uncertainties, both in her career and her personal life, and it’s the city and its inhabitants that slowly begin to relax her and reawaken her to new possibilities. As she discovers San Francisco, she also rediscovers herself.She’s supported by kind-hearted, generous cousin Lizzie and – via email – her best friend back in England, the frank and hilarious Vicky. There’s a supporting cast of wonderful characters that she meets on her travels, cheeky street performer Eric, Mr and Mrs Alfaro, grey-eyed artist Max and friendly goth Ced. San Francisco also offers Nell the chance of a new romance, and she is forced to reconsider how she feels about Aidan, and whether they have a future together.
Nell’s journey of discovery was also mine as the reader, and with the storyline far from predictable – especially towards the end – I found myself hoping, but by no means certain, that her happy ending would be the one I had imagined for her. I actually read the whole book in a day, as there just wasn’t a plausible place for me to stop reading. I’m glad I picked a Sunday morning to open the first page, otherwise work might have been quite cross with me.
Take A Look At Me Now is a wonderful, warm novel, with a magical setting and believable, lovable characters. I’m just going to be disappointed when I finally make it to San Francisco in search of Banana Maple Walnut French Toast and that view of the bay, that they’re not all out there, waiting to welcome me.
Miranda Dickinson's Website