23/09/2010

The Double Life of Anna Day (by Louise Candlish)

I first came across Louise Candlish when I read her book 'Before we say Goodbye' just over a year ago. I enjoyed it so much that I determined to read more by this writer, and put some of her books on my wishlist. I'd pretty much forgotten about them, so was delighted to be given three for my birthday in April.

I've just finished the first of them, 'The Double Life of Anna Day'. The front cover makes it look like light, mildly amusing women's fiction - and indeed, that's the genre it best fits. But the plot is rather out-of-the ordinary, and the themes are quite thought-provoking, looking at women and their lifestyles and expectations in contemporary society.

Anna Day narrates the book, which is set in the present tense throughout. She tells us right at the start that she's living a double life, although it doesn't come easily to her. The problem is that she's deeply in love with Charlie, and hopes they might get married before too long.

Naturally she wants to meet his mother, Meredith, but Charlie has put this off for far too long. Meredith, he insists, is very protective of him, prone to bursts of anger, and since she was recently bereaved he does not want to make her distraught with the knowledge that her son has a serious girlfriend...

Then Charlie goes away on business for a few months. So Anna determines to take matters into her own hands. She re-models herself as the kind of sweet girl that her potential mother-in-law would like, hanging around her village, following her interests, even going on holiday with her...

The book took a while to get going, but I liked Anna's character very much, and by about half-way through was fully involved in the story. Anna juggles her high-flying career with her need to charm Meredith, and I found myself feeling for her more and more.

It's not, I suppose, a terribly realistic scenario, and the bittersweet ending was fairly predictable, but all in all I thought it a very enjoyable read. Definitely recommended to anyone who likes lightweight women's fiction that goes deeper than 'chicklit'.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 22nd September 2010

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