on 15 April 2010
With Jill's last couple of books, I have felt that there was something lacking. Nothing actually *wrong* with them, per se - perfectly pleasant and engaging. For a new/debut author, brilliant. But with Jill we've come to expect more. One startling thing that popped up for me after reading Take A Chance On Me was the lack of memorability.
If you asked me, at a moment's notice, to talk about Nadia Knows Best, or Staying At Daisy's, or even The One You Really Want, I could practically recite dialogue verbatim, or remember exact scenes or laugh out loud (without even going back to the text) at a particular situation.
Literally one day after reading Take A Chance On Me (and Rumour Has It, for that matter), I could not remember a single thing...aside from the two main characters' names! Not a scene, not a dialogue, not a sparky bit of writing! I actually had to go back and reread it through once more, and even then it was a struggle to recall. This is not what should be happening with Jill Mansell! I *love* her books, so much so that each one is on pre-order and I wait desperately for the next. After Rumour Has It, I was willing to think it a fluke...but this latest too seems rushed and phoned it. If her name wasn't on the cover, I wouldn't believe it was hers.
Now, to stress, there is nothing actually wrong with it. Like previously stated, it is a perfectly nice - if bland - novel, with a few cute scenes and situations. But as much as I love Jill's clever interweaving of many different threads and multiple love stories, I have started to feel as if the novels become increasingly overcrowded. There are myriad threads explored here, at the expense of the two main characters, Johnny and Cleo, who barely get any build up (though a little back story and a few sparky situations) before their happy-ever-after. Not like Jay-Nadia or Daisy-Dev, who bounce off the page almost into real life.
I don't know what it is, but I really hope that Jill shakes it off and comes back to her natural style. The writing hasn't changed, but it does seem as if her heart isn't in it.
on 24 March 2010
I am a HUGE Jill Mansell fan. Every February/March I anxiously await for my pre-ordered copy of her latest offering to be delivered. Not being British, many of my girlfriends had never heard of her, but I have converted many of them into fans as well after I passed around 'Rumor Has It' last year. I've loved all of her other ones too (too many to list, but 'An offer you cant refuse', 'Staying at Daisy's', 'Open House' and 'Nadia Know's best' stick out in my mind).
After plugging through 'Take a Chance on Me', I was left feeling really disappointed because I really wanted to and really tried to like it! As usual, the characters were charming, the male lead dashing, and there was lots of snappy conversation. However, the writing style made for a really messy, jumbling read! I don't know if its Jill's doing or her editors, but the style was incredibly distracting. There were barely any dialogue tags, so it wasn't a relaxing read because you had to figure out in other ways who was speaking. I don't recall any of her other books being like that, but that jumped out at me on the very first page. Also, I usually don't mind when a book is written from multiple viewpoints because it gives a reader insight into situations that aren't possible with one viewpoint. However, in this book, viewpoint would just switch halfway through a paragraph with no warning and it was SO confusing and abrupt! You had to stop reading and say 'wait a second...oh, ok' and then get back into the story which took some time. Finally, while the plot had the potential to be very interesting, it just wasn't that polished and fluid.
Anyways, being such a big fan, I will definitely still read her next book and just keep my fingers crossed that this was a one time fluke! If this is your first Jill Mansell book, please go back and read a couple of her other ones before forming your conclusion about her books and writing. Unfortunately, this one isn't a good example!!
on 2 May 2010
I have only recently discovered Jill Mansell and since that discovery have devoured everything she has written. I love her style of writing it is fast paced and never ever boring. Take a Chance on me can be equally described it is a fast easy read. The problem I had with this is that it was somewhat disjointed. The basic story was good but whilst all of the characters were likeable I never felt totally involved in their lives.To me it appeared that Jill had the story outline and she made it fit into the required word count. I didn't fall in love with Johnny and to be truthful wasn't entirely sure how Cleo did. He certainly had potential but the emotion wasn't in the writing. Will was eliminated from the story too soon in my opinion and if the story had concentrated more on Cleo and Johnny and less on the Abbie and Georgia theme it might have worked better. All of the strands of the story were appropriate but in view of the fact she left me, for one, feeling a little cheated perhaps concentrating on just a Cleo/Johnny/Will thread with perhaps Ash as the vignette it may have worked better. Overall I think the problem I had with Take a chance on me was that there was too much in too little time. I felt that the conclusion came because that was the end of the word count and not because anything had been worked through and resolved. Had this been the first Jill Mansell I had read I would probably buy another but would not be chasing up all her previous works and pre ordering on Amazon. I hope that anyone who buys this and feels as indifferent as I did is not prevented from buying her previous works because on form there is no Chic Lit writer who can beat Jill Mansell she really can be the best.
on 25 February 2010
I have just finished reading the book and I LOVE it! Would have finished it earlier but have loads of assignments for uni to get done. Anyway, going off topic...
The reviewer before me has said that this book is a disappointment and I think that is a TOTALLY unfair comment. BUT everyone has rights to their own opinion. Personally, I love this book and I have read all of Jill Mansell's other books. My favourite being, 'Perfect Timing,' 'Sheer Mishief,' 'Nadia Knows Best,' 'Romour Has It,' and 'Millie's Fling.' Basically quite a few of them lol, and I have more favourites but can't list them!
So okay, this book may not be as good as the one before it, 'Rumour Has It,' but it is still a recommended read. Cleo's character is brilliant - like all of Mansell's characters, she is FUN and CHIRPY with a lot of WIT. And I LOVE Johnny! He's brillaint. Okay, I didn't feel such a huge budding romance between them like in 'Sheer Mischief' but that is a lot to live upto! - Come on! Janey and Guy were soooo awww!
Johnny LaVenture - Even his name is HOT - is gorgeous and is back from New York in Channing Hill's village to live in his later father's mansion of a house while he waits for buyers - because the last serious ones were discouraged by Cleo and they never came back! You see a little of their back story and how in their teens, Johnny was Cleo's tormentor and some of the tricks her played on her, I would cry my eyes out! Anyway, he's back and Cleo's seeing Will and of course he's too good to be true (read and find out). Cleo has a friend, Ash, who is radio presenter, not attractive in the looks department, but more than makes up for it with his personality - UNTIL that is of course he meets a girl who he fancies and then he can't seem to open his mouth, OR smile! It's quite funny and at the same time, agonising to read.
And okay, this book may not have as many laughs as much of her older ones, BUT Jill Mansell delivers! This is waaaay better that 'An Offer You Can't Refuse' which has been the only disappointing books of hers I've read. In this books, there are radio shows, adulterers, crushes, marriage problems, past coming back to hit you in the face, car crashes, returning ex-girlfriends and much more! Read the book!
A 8 OUT OF 10! Recommened this books for all Mansell readers and others who just love chick lit.
on 27 March 2010
I am a bit puzzled by some of the earlier reviews. Once I started reading I felt so involved with the characters I could not stop. I liked Ash particularly, as I once saw someone who was quite familiar on TV as a large presence. He was driving by and it surprised me to find he was really quite small This made me wonder what these people are really like. Ash gives one possibility. Two very different but close sisters make two firm strands to the story and strangely I found i could like them both but for different reasons.
My main thought was that I was in the middle of a lively party and did not want to leave. Just the thing for reading on holiday or any other time to get relaxed .
Cleo and Abbie Quinn are sisters. Abbie is happily married to Tom and has been since she was young. They are envied by people living in their village as they seem to have the perfect marriage. Cleo on the other hand has never had much luck with men. Her latest boyfriend Will seems to tick all of the boxes. One of Cleo's old school friends Johnny LaVenture turns up back in the village and he has never been Cleo's favourite person. Having teased her mercilessly at school Cleo can't bear to be around him. Meanwhile Abbie's husband is behaving strangely; he is being very withdrawn and is definitely hiding something. When she finds out the shocking truth, she is not only shocked, but completely unaware that her life is about to turn head over heels. Both sisters realise that the past is never too far away and that it can ultimately destroy everything.
I have my preference for reading and it falls either into the Crime/Thrillers genre or Chick Lit. When it comes to Chick Lit, Jill Mansell is one of the favourites amongst many of my friends and family. I have read every single one of her books and thoroughly loved at least 95% of them. However in recent years with other authors breaking through and the older authors producing great stories she hasn't shone as much for me. Luckily with this book she has re-taken her crown. She is firmly placed in the Chick Lit Elite and quite rightly so.
It is very hard to review and give opinion when you don't want to give too much away so forgive me if some of it seems cryptic. Overall this story flowed off the pages and with each page I read it became even more enjoyable.
The two sisters are nothing like each other, which personally I love. They have two completely different situations to deal with but throughout the whole story are there for each other. Mansell writes two threads in the book one for each sister. They are a joy to read because each of them has their own strange quirks which make them pretty loveable but not perfect.
Cleo's story is difficult to comment on but it was written extremely well with one of the two men appearing in her life getting a great come-uppance. Cleo is a chauffeur and on her journey we get to meet a famous start she is driving around Casey Kruger and he is written as the bolshie and obnoxious typical star. We also meet Ash who is Cleo's best friend and neighbour. Not only is Ash a neighbour he is a minor celebrity in the village hosting a Radio Station Programme where he has a devout following of female fans.
Abbie on the other hand is battling her issues with her husband. She manages to get the wrong end of the stick and gets herself in a sticky predicament that could cause the break up of her marriage.
Although the main story of the book follows young Cleo in her quest for love, I actually found that I was far more hooked by the story of her sister Abbie and the relationship between her and husband Tom. The story begins quite innocently with the pair desperate for their own child, but it moves quite fast into something far more shocking and I didn't expect at all the twist that comes along. I credit Mansell's writing for keeping you in one train of thought and suddenly shocking you with something else, and the new twist develops slowly through the book and made for very interesting reading.
As usual, Mansell's female characters are very believable and likeable, and that's really the secret to her success. You can believe that each of these women are real, and that their story is one that you might actually hear about rather than something completely unbelievable, and I enjoy reading a more realistic story. Mansell moves along Cleo's story at a good pace, with the beginning with all the action happening quite quickly and the rest developing throughout the book and I think it came to the end in a timely manner, and didnt feel too rushed or slow which was great. Yes, its rather predictable but I didn't care, I just enjoyed the read.
I don't usually comment too much on the setting of a book, but I really enjoyed the way this book was set in a quaint village that keeps itself to itself, because it allowed for not too many characters to become involved and was therefore able to focus itself much more on the characters that really counted. Mansell writes in such a way that you can picture the places in your mind as you read them from Cleo's little home to the fab pub that pops up regularly. It creates a proper little world for the book and I really enjoyed this.
If you've read and loved Jill Mansell's books before, then you're going to love this one too. It sticks to what Jill knows works for her and that is great characters, an absorbing story and a great setting, all of which work together to create a fab read that you won't want to put down. I thought the cover was a little wishy washy at first and doesn't necessarily relate to what is found inside the book, but then you'll just be pleasantly surprised by the great twists along the way. Abbie's story has some darker hints to it than you might expect but I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the book and was so excited to see how it all ends. A brilliant read.
on 16 June 2010
This book follows the lives of two sisters, Cleo and Abbie. Cleo believes she has found her Mister Right in the form of Will Newman, but is distracted by the charms of Johnny LaVenture (despite him being her personal childhood nemesis). Abbie is concerned about her husband Tom, who has become moody and sullen - when she finds out the reason her life is turned upside down...
Jill Mansell is onto her 21st novel with Take a Chance on Me, and follows a tried and trusted formula in this book. There are no real shocks: in the end, the right people end up together and there is a happy ever after. The difference in Mansell's books from others in the genre is the way in which she reaches the destination - sure, the book is frothy and there are few deep messages, but it flows easily with lovely touches of humour.
The sweetest storyline belonged to Fia and Ash. Mansell did sort of thrust the idea of not judging a book by its cover front and centre, but it was pleasant to read about a gent in one of these types of books who is not completely buff and gorgeous!
I particularly enjoyed Abbie's story as well - Mansell got right to the heart of the way a woman might feel when told she is unable to have children. Abbie's panic and pain was well-written - although her solution to the problem was more far-fetched.
In fact, that is the biggest issue with this book: you need to suspend your disbelief a fair bit! It isn't a huge problem, but you do find yourself thinking 'That would NEVER happen!' about some of the happenings.
My summary is that this book, as with much of Jill Mansell's work, is perfect fodder for a lazy bath with lots of bubbles and a glass of wine. Enjoyable, but never memorable.
on 7 June 2016
This was my first Jill Mansell book. She was recommended to me by a friend who thought I'd appreciate her sense of humour, and she was right.
I really enjoyed reading this. The pace was fast, never boring - the writer has a very efficient use of language and I ended up reading the whole thing in a couple of evenings. I liked all the characters, developing a bit of a crush on Ash, and I also loved the heroine, Cleo - I enjoy a funny heroine who can match the hero in their dialogue. My only complaint would be that the Cleo and the hero, Johnnie, lacked "screen time" together, although I don't think this made their romance any less believable because their back story was so well explored. Loved the sub-plot with Cleo's sister Abbie and her husband's long-lost daughter too, which wrung a few tears. All in all, five stars and I'll be back for more from Mansell!
Cleo thinks she's found the ideal man in Will, a stark contrast to her childhood tormenter who is back in their home village... her sister Abbie's perfect marriage turns out to be not quite as flawless as everyone thinks... and her friend Ash finds himself pursued by and pursuing two quite different women.
I've never read Jill Mansell before and found this an ideal switch-your-brain-off read, very cute and cosy, with nothing challenging about it, all oh so predictable, with reassuringly happy endings. It's perfect as a relaxing read just before sleep as I never felt any urge to read `just one more chapter' and am sure it sent me quickly off into sweet dreams with a gentle smile on my face.