This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Rachel envisaged herself married, living in her own home and working as a freelance artist by the time she was 30. Up until recently, she had all that. Now she’s jobless, penniless and separated from her husband who still resides in what had once been their happy home. Unable to find anywhere decent to rent, Rachel looks at house-sharing. When the opportunity to live rent free arises, Rachel takes it. In return for a bit of light housework and dog-sitting, she finds herself living with Patrick, also recently separated, and his young son. Soon enough the pair are ticking adventures off from their ‘to do’ lists, including dance lessons and jumping from aeroplanes. Life seems good again, but there are some issues that can’t be solved by following any lists.
Rachel is an instantly likeable character. She’s down on her luck and feeling depressed but is still able to laugh both at herself and the situation she has found herself in. She finds reassurance in writing lists and writes them for everything, including lists of fashion you see in trendy London bars and the most ridiculously-named dog breeds. Many of the lists reminded me of comedians who make the audience laugh with realistic observations. Unsurprisingly, Rachel finds she’s reasonably good at stand-up comedy! Many of the activities on her ‘to do’ list take her out of her comfort zone and I found it interesting to see how she’d respond under pressure. There are lots of funny moments throughout the novel but it did also bring me to tears … twice!
The supporting characters are well-written and realistic. I found it harder to like Rachel’s friend Cynthia, who seemed quite cold and self-absorbed. Emma, a primary school teacher, seemed much warmer in comparison, but then as they face trials they swapped places. I particularly enjoyed the reminiscing about silly things they had all done in their younger years. Both female friends highlighted that nobody has the perfect life, however much it might seem to be the case. My favourite supporting character was Patrick’s son, Alex, who has the strange habit of storing food in his wellies before putting them on. I also became very fond of Max, the aging Westie. I’m a sucker for non-human characters!This is a witty, unusual romantic read. Although I knew from the outset what the outcome was most likely to be, there are plenty of surprises along the way to make it worth reading anyway. It’s also a reminder that, while looking for romantic love is important, love surrounds us in the form of friendships, families and sometimes pets, too!