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on 13 November 2013
This is an intriguing novel, with several levels of story. On the face of it, it has a Bridget Jones-esque story line, with Anna, the heroine, on a quest, not for romantic success as Bridget wanted, but for literary success. Anna is soon to marry her fiancé Will, but is restless, wanting to pursue her literary dream before domesticity swallows her up.

Unfortunately, her dream has yet to be backed up by anything other than desire: she hasn't written a single word. So when she comes across a book called How to be a Literary Genius by James Loftus, with it's promise of a quick and easy route to literary success, whilst she doesn't quite believe it, she is tempted. Finally, she starts writing her novel.

The story that follows, goes way beyond the initial chick lit feel, being an allegorical tale of the increasingly X factor world in which we live. All you need is a dream (although fantasy would be a more accurate description) and a back story to tug at the heart strings.... Hard work and dedication don't really feature in this formula: why put in your 10,000 hours, when there might be an easier way?

Anna's adventures take her to a Greek island writing retreat, hosted by James Loftus, where she is encouraged to enter her writing into Lit Factor. Meanwhile her romantic life takes some twists and turns, and we are kept guessing right to the end: which man will Anna end up with? And will she win the Lit Factor?

The ending is as satisfying and provocative as the rest of the book. A great read, funny and provocative. Highly recommended.
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on 26 December 2013
Anna Bright's journey to becoming a literary genius is a circuitous and unlikely one. For a start, she hasn't actually written a book, and her perfect lover has little confidence that she ever will. She is persuaded by a successful writer friend to join a local writing group, where she feels inadequate and is patronised by the other members who are either neurotic or completely bonkers.

Her job is unsatisfying and on the rocks; her perfect lover may not be quite as perfect as he seems, and then there's a dangerous but devilishly irresistible acclaimed writer and Phyllis, an anorexic dotty American future-mother-in-law.

From the leafy London suburbs to the glaring brightness of a Greek island, Anna struggles with the shenanigans of Phyllis, her own lack of confidence, and uncertainty about her future marriage, while doggedly ploughing on with her book about Modigliani's muse. It could bring her international recognition.

The book captures very well the world of publishing and media, and the author has created a believable character in Anna. Anybody hoping to become a literary genius could learn a thing or two from this.

A jolly good read!
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on 1 November 2013
Let me start by saying that anything remotely like Chick Lit isn't my genre of choice. That said, HTBALG is
mostly set in London, just up the road from where I used to live and I quite fancy becoming a literary genius
if the offer is there, so I thought I'd give this a try

As it turns out, this isn't a 'how to' book at all - the title refers to a super-successful 'how to' book in the story - but does instead weave through the dreams and pitfalls of trying to become a successful, or even unsuccessful, writer through the wide eyes of neurotic Anna Bright in the months leading up to her wedding.

Even though the writing life for Anna seemed to be an undisciplined whirl of well-to-do social engagements, sunny holidays, falling in and out of love, all washed down with lashings of booze (if only, eh!?), her world was well portrayed, with a refreshingly-intricate plot, briskly paced. The writing was never stodgy and an interesting 200 pages fairly flew by.

An ideal holiday read for Londoners about to bask on a Greek island, Modigliani fans and plenty of other people too. 3.75/5
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on 17 November 2013
This is a great satirical novel narrated by aspiring writer Anna Bright. She takes us into her world of frustrated writing ambitions, self doubt and relationship disasters. Along the way she introduces us to some larger-than-life characters and the book cleverly takes aim at some of the trappings of 21st century life. A book with more layers than initially seems apparent with some great laugh-out-loud bits.
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on 21 July 2014
A romp of a read -- but be warned if you intend to take this as a guide to writing: the title should be How To Be A Literary Genius-Not. Wanna-be writer Anna is so full of wishfulness, and dissatisfaction/doubts about upcoming marriage (justifiable!), that just the idea of being an author sweeps her away. But she bumps into quite a few home truths on this journey, and so will the reader, with smiles as well. Jacqui Lofthouse knows all the ins and outs of writing and publishing and uses her insights tellingly. My wish (as not usually a comedy reader) is that Anna Bright, or Jacqui Lofhouse!, write her book about the Modigliani woman. I was so glad when Anna buckled down to writing; I want that book!
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on 25 December 2013
A hilarious page turner of a novel, especially if you have ever studied creative writing. The writers' in-jokes and acerbic pen pictures of literary types spice up a 'will-she / won't she' plot which zips you along. The fantastically well-written prose is a lesson in itself, one that lives up to the title!
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on 14 January 2014
With huge respect for the author as a teacher of creative writing, I have to admit being somewhat disappointed by the content of this novel.
I did not find it very gripping as the plot seemed to focus on the technique taught in writing class and I have to admit I cant remember very much about it even though I only read it a few weeks ago.
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