I love Jill Mansell's books. There's something very readable about them, and I just enjoy the stories, the characters and the way Jill unravels a story. Amazingly, this is Jill's 23rd book, and she seems to get better with each book. I love the cover of this one, it really suits the title of the book perfectly, and green isn't a very used colour in chick lit colours, so it'll certainly stand out on a bookshelf. Once I had read the blurb of this book, I knew that I wanted to read it and find out exactly why Lara had to run away all of those years ago, and I knew from previous experience with Jill's books that it wouldn't be all straight forward, and so I eagerly got stuck in!
The book begins with Lara returning to her hometown of Bath after 18 years away from it, for the funeral of her father. Don't feel too sorry for her though, because Lara isn't sad her dad has died, they never had a good relationship when she was young, which was why she ran away when she was 16. In the interim, she's had a daughter called Gigi, who she has brought up alone, and she's quite worried about returning home to her old life once more. Things are quite quickly revealed as to why Lara had to run away, but it's the fallout from this which makes up the rest of story, and Lara's determination to make things right and find out why her father hated her so much. I loved the character of Lara, she was really likeable and friendly, and the perfect heroine for the book. Yes, she was a little bit flawed and wouldn't admit her feelings for old boyfriend Flynn who makes a reappearance, but other than that, she's great and I was really wanting everything to work out for her.
I absolutely loved Gigi, Lara's young daughter who plays quite an important role in the book, especially as she's an older teenager rather than young child, and has her own mind and makes some important moves in the book. Mansell wrote the relationship between the pair perfectly, and it was lovely to read a positive mother/daughter relationship in chick lit as they can quite often be dysfunctional and not always easy to read. The other character I really liked was Flynn, the old boyfriend of Lara who turns out to be quite a major character in the book too. It annoyed me that neither of them would admit to their true feelings, and strung it out over the book, but he was very likeable, although I didn't like something he did near the end of the novel! He is a pretty good hero character, and I enjoyed reading the story between Lara and Flynn come about, and them facing up to their actions of years ago and how it still impacts on their lives now. Oh, and I have to mention the hilarious yet touching storyline between Lara's friend Harry and superstar rapper Enjay, it had me laughing out loud and was something totally unexpected in the book!
Mansell isn't afraid to write about some important issues, and she covers those with ease and grace in the book. I found the dynamic between Lara, Gigi and Flynn was extremely well written, and I feel Mansell has really done her research when it comes to the issues that these characters are facing. Not only that, but Lara has to find out some other things about her long-deceased mother too which she struggles to deal with, but I liked how the character approached these things, and it opened up other relationships in the book that were really touching, and I defy anyone not to shed a bit of a tear at the emotional ending of this book due to that storyline! I love Mansell's descriptions of Bath, she really brings it to life with her writing, and it is somewhere I definitely want to visit now! I love how Mansell manages to juggle several stories within the one book, without making them feel like one is more important than the other, from Lara's tale, to her best friend's relationship breakdown to Harry and Enjay too. I really enjoyed this book, and I read it relatively quickly as I didn't want to put it down, I was really involved in the lives of Lara and co. and didn't want to leave them behind! Mansell has another hit novel on her hands here, and rightly so, it's brilliant!