Perfect Timing (by Jill Mansell)

Not having been a fan of so-called 'chick-lit' in the past, I'd never actually read anything by Jill Mansell. I've branched out into various other authors in this genre, and have mostly been pleasantly surprised, but somehow the covers on Jill Mansell's paperbacks - at least the ones in thrift stores and charity shops - are not appealing.

So when a friend lent me 'Perfect Timing', a pastel blue paperback showing a cheerful girl lying in an old-fashioned bath, with glittery gold lettering on the cover, it didn't immediately appeal. I do know that one shouldn't judge the book by its cover, but I would not have chosen this unless I was truly desperate. However, my friend recommended it highly, so a few days ago I picked it up, expecting that it would take a couple of weeks or so to get through it.

The story begins with Poppy, a young woman at her hen party, the night before her wedding. She's not exactly enjoying the strange antics her friends are pushing her into, and escapes for a moment. She trips and falls, and just happens to meet an amazingly attractive man, who picks her up - literally - and implies that he would like to pick her up metaphorically too.

Poppy, who I liked almost from the start, can't bring herself to meet a stranger in such a clandestine way. But she is so disturbed by their meeting that she can't bring herself to go through with her wedding either...

Most of the novel takes place when she has left her family home and moved to London, taking a job working for a high-class caterer in evenings, and as an antique dealer's assistant in the daytime. She's decidedly klutzy, very disorganised, accident prone in general... and altogether a very believable person whom I warmed to more and more.

There is a large cast of characters, some of whom were decidedly caricatured, but they were different enough that I didn't get lost - an impressive feat in itself - and some of them were very interesting people. There were quite a few subplots that intrigued me, and I found myself reading several chapters at a time, rather than just one or two.

There's a messy painter, a geeky antique dealer, a frustrated young mother (one of the less attractive people in the book), and a nouveau riche, vulgar but delightful older couple. Naturally, given the chick-lit genre, there was plenty of attraction, lots of partying and various couples getting together. Yet, happily, there was nothing sordid or explicit at all, very little bad language, and a light touch that made this book extremely readable and enjoyable.

Recommended to anyone who likes light women's fiction. It was considerably better than I could have guessed from the original cover, so I'm glad to see that it's been re-printed with a much more attractive cover, as shown on the Amazon links above.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 7th October 2010

1 comment:

Jill Mansell said...

Thanks Sue, so glad you enjoyed the book! I write them by hand and my mum used to type them up for me, which is why there is nothing smutty or sweary to offend. My teenage daughter now types them and is even stricter with me!
Jill Mansell