Thursday, January 30, 2020

Jill Mansell - Making Your Mind Up

Love is a complicated thing...
Lottie Carlyle is happy enough. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two adorable-sometimes-kids in an idyllic village, on good terms with her ex-husband, and with friends all around, everything is going just fine. But when she meets her new boss, her peaceful world is thrown into delightful, exciting, and frustrating chaos. Tyler is perfect for Lottie, but her kids do not agree. To make matters worse, the handsome and mysterious Seb appears on the scene, intriguing-and distracting-Lottie and charming her children, making it more and more difficult for her to make up her mind...

Comment: I was given this book last Christmas. This isn't the first book I've read by the author so I knew what kind of story I'd get and although the previous books I tried weren't very amazing, since this one was a gift, I couldn't find a reason not to try again. I'm glad because this one felt a lot more appealing than what I remember the other ones being.

In this story we meet Lottie, a divorced woman who is still friends with her ex and who has two young children. Lottie lives and works in a small British village near a lake, where her boss Freddie has a rental business and they receive many gusts looking for peace and quiet and an idyllic scenario to rest at.
However, the story starts when Freddie tells Lottie he has terminal cancer and he sold the business to another person, Tyler, an American who wanted to change his life.
From the first time they meet, Tyler and Lottie are attracted to one another but a continuous set of events seems to distance them more than making them closer, and her kids don't even like him.
It will take a lot of misunderstandings and missed calls for everything to finally be on the right track..but will Tyler and Lottie see it?

This book is both labeled woman's fiction and chick lit. For me, in broad terms, I'd say the difference is that chick lit is a little less angsty, lighter, more focused on the set of events rather than the emotions associated with it.
Thinking of this, to me, Jill Mansell falls a little bit more on the chick lit side and after having read three books, that's how I'd describe it.

This book was interesting and I was looking for to go on every time I had to pause reading it. The other two titles, by the way, were Miranda's Big Mistake (which I found silly) and The One You Really Want (which felt better). Comparing the three now, I suppose my state of mind plays a part as well, but it felt this one was the one wit the strongest plot.
At the same time, even though I know what to expect from this author's writing, I can't help but still think of the ways the story could gain by being a little more serious on some subjects, of not being immersed in so many silly and pointless scenes that aren't as funny as they pretend to be.

Despite the details I'd change - perhaps woman's fiction could suit it better then? - this was still cute in many moments, it was still appealing to read and I think if I were to get another of her books, maybe my mood and perspective would look at it with more positivism than how I was when I read the other two. Something to think about.

The Portuguese cover
As for the plot, this was very basic although some themes had the potential to be developed with more complexity but it seems the mix of superficial and hilarity is a goal in this author's work, if not always well balanced.
I liked Lottie, the main character, despite her personality reminded me of a scatterbrained person, not always easy to know if she is trustworthy but someone we can accept as being likable. I think her attitude in some situations was not the most mature she could have but I'm sure that was a choice done on purpose by the author.
All the shenanigans she goes about as well as the secondary characters make her look approachable but sometimes also a little crazy.

There were some heavy notions on going, such as Freddie's cancer and how he deals with it, also Cressida's issues with the way her marriage ended (she's Lottie's best friend) and how she has to face it all the time since he remarried and lives nearby. These are just little things in the characters' lives, they aren't by any means the focus of their arcs but it does add to this vibe that mixes the serious issues with flimsy reactions we see through the whole novel. It's not bad nor good, just a little too evident it's a tactic being used.

There are two or three romances on going, depending on how one sees it but I think it was nice to have many POVs and situations, it means readers don't have to like just one element, even if some of the situations all characters see themselves in are a little over the top unlikely.
Still, in general, I think the plot moved towards the expected, there are no huge twists in the way, only a few minor details on how one or two scenes get to happen. The plot sets heavily on missing encounters and misunderstandings but some are funny enough.

I was happy enough with the way the story ended, I shed one tear in a more touching moment but, globally, this was only a little above average.
I'm glad I liked it more than what I thought I would, though, and I'll probably read another book by Jill Mansell at some point.
Grade: 7/10

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