The Good, the Bad and the Dumped (by Jenny Colgan)

I’ve read a few of Jenny Colgan’s novels, mostly involving cakes of some kind. They’re light-hearted fun, mostly well-written with engaging - if caricatured - people, and satisfying endings. So when I saw this book in a thrift shop a few months ago, it was an easy decision to buy it.

‘The Good, the Bad and the Dumped’ is about a young woman called Posy, whom we first meet at the top of a mountain. Her sporty boyfriend Matt has brought here there, and she’s pretty sure he’s going to propose. All goes well until she starts to get second thoughts, a few days later. She’s filled with insecurities, and decides that she needs to find out what happened to her three exes, who are in far-flung places around the UK.

It was hard to like Posy at first; her sister and best friend discourage her from doing this, and she doesn’t even tell Matt. Yes, she’s had a difficult life, as we learn through subsequent chapters, with flashbacks to her childhood, and conversations with her remarkably self-centred mother. But her sudden insistence on delving into the past leaves her open to all kinds of disasters.

It’s all rather too tidy, as well. Chris, the first boyfriend, was comfortable, needy and liked being looked after. Adam, the second, was exciting and taught her a great deal, but commitment phobic. And then there’s the one she never talked about; the one who broke her heart. Evidently he’s the one she still hankers after, in some way, and is keeping her from feeling certain about Matt.

The ongoing hints about the third boyfriend are a clever device to add a little mystery and to keep the reader interested. And, frankly, it needed something like that. There really wasn’t much story with the first half of the book; just lots of conversations, and flashbacks, and Posy’s memories. It’s not all told from Posy’s viewpoint, which is a bit confusing; we suddenly see snippets of thoughts from other people interspersed with Posy’s story, and that made it all feel less personal.

I kept reading, because the style is engaging, and I was interested to see how it all panned out. The ending of the story is nicely satisfying and the epilogue is quite clever, if a bit predictable. But none of the characters grabbed me at all. They’re all rather one-dimensional. Some of them (such as Posy’s step-brother) are so caricatured that they are annoying. I don’t know why he was included at all.

Even the eventual meeting with the third boyfriend is fraught with drama and then a ridiculous episode before Posy drives home. She’s come to a new revelation by then, and needs to see yet another person from her past… all of which is rather obvious, and I kept hoping the story would start….

Oh, and the chronology at the end is confusing, and the blurb on the back - which I didn’t read until after I’d finished the book - was apparently written by someone who hadn’t actually read the book.

I sound negative, but it’s not a bad book. Jenny Colgan has a very readable light-hearted style that I like. I kept reading, often several chapters at a time. It made a pleasant few evenings’ reading, and would be a good novel to take on holiday for someone who likes women’s fiction, and doesn’t want to have to think too much.

Review copyright 2017 Sue's Book Reviews

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