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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Best Thing I Never Had
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2014
The prologue introduces the characters perfectly. Nicky is a newly engaged twenty-six year old and to me, she seemed a little unsure whether it was the right decision to make or not. Leigha is a business woman who has her nails done every two weeks and her hair done every four, even when it's not needed. She's been asked to be a bridesmaid. Sukie is responsible for her two teenage sister and she is also going to be a bridesmaid. Johnny is the kind of man who has a one night stand and always forgets to plan his escape route. Harriet is due to be the maid of honour and she's the only one who really dwells on the past and finally, we meet Adam, who is the very handsome best man.

Part One is set during September 2006 and June 2007.

The group of friends all meet at University and very quickly, friendships have bonded and we're shown their final year. It's an easy pace to read at and I fell into their lives as if I'd known them for a long time. Harriet is by far, my favourite character of the novel and she reminded me a lot of Hermione Granger (I'm hoping you all know who she is...). Chapter fourteen pulls the group of friends together due to highly unexpected heartbreak. Yet that is when the drama well and truly kicks in and before the readers have time to drink their cups of tea, the group has been divided.

Part Two is set during February and March 2012.

It begins two months before the wedding of Nicky and Miles and it's a `what are they doing now?' segment of the novel before the lead up to the big day. Once it arrives, the drama takes centre stage and it also includes a lovely little flashback to June 2005.

After all, when it comes to each other, what have we got left to lose?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2013
In 2012, Nicky, the bride-to-be, decides to make good on a request she made to her former best friends in their university days - that, when her big day finally came, they would be her bridesmaids. There is a massive issue, though - the said best friends who used to get along so well in their university days have had their friendships ruptured via an entanglement of little white lies that couldn't be sustained. The book flits between the present day wedding preparations and their past university life in three parts, detailing the build-up and consequent fall of love and friendship. The POV switches frequently among the main cast, each with a distinctive flavour of character that will over time both warm you to the character and render you exasperated with them.

The characters and flow of the story can elicit many feelings, particularly nostalgic ones - of halcyon days left only to your memories, of friendships and fights, of love lost and gained - in a way you'll be going through the same emotional roller-coaster as the characters in the book, cringing and fearing along the way as the inevitable storm approaches. The narrative is directed in a way where you are not bogged down by overzealous descriptions, but the quick phrases are clever and memorable. The book is therefore quite a straightforward read, and is liable to catch your interest and make you probe further. A fantastic first novel for Miss Erin Lawless - I do look forward to her others in future.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2013
Erin Lawless has created characters full of emotion and opinion, and readers will be able to relate their characteristics and personality traits to people they know. I particularly loved the character of Sukie, who goes off the rails. Her life seemed so interesting and diverse, I would have loved to have got to know more about her and her story.

The university setting reminded me of my own university days filled with drunken nights and dodgy takeaways, and particularly the perils of housesharing and the pressure of the dissertation. Many authors try and encapsulate this pivotal time in life, but I felt Erin Lawless managed to convey just how young and impressionable students really are and the growth that occurs in the years following university.

A story of love and friendship, The Best Thing I Never Had is accessible and highly readable. Fans of chicklit, romance and women's fiction will particularly enjoy it, but be prepared to cry-those heightened emotions related to first love are described exquisitely, the acute pleasure and pain of love. I'm not ashamed to say I cried whilst reading this book.

The Best Thing I Never Had is one of the most engaging books I've read this year. I loved it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2013
The Best Thing I Never Had is very much a story about friendship. Yes, it also features love and relationships, but at its core, it features on seven friends. Harriet, Sukie, Nicky, Miles, Leigha (name check, alert, though it's spelt wrong), Adam and Johnny. At University they were all close, they all hung out together, until Harriet and Adam started spending more and more time together, which meant the inevitable happened, but instead of telling their friends about it, they lied. They kept it a secret. For so long, that when the secret eventually came out, so did the recriminations, especially those from Leigha and Sukie. They hounded Harriet, until she felt she had no choice but to retreat. Until she had to eventually give up the one thing that meant the most to her. Now, six years later, a wedding invitation drops through each friends' letterbox, telling them Nicky and Miles are finally getting hitched, meaning a reunion is on the cards, but just how will it work with so much animosity?

I absolutely loved The Best Thing I Never Had. It blew me away from start to finish, it absolutely did. It is very much in a similar vein to Katy Regan's (fabulous) novel How We Met, and I loved how it was split into two parts, how we got to find out how the friendship imploded before we had to deal with the reunion at the wedding. It was funny, it was honest, it was a proper look at how friendships can sometimes make or break you. How even the people who are meant to be the closest to you in the world can turn on a dime and leave you out in the cold. It was hard to read at times, because I felt Leigha and Sukie hadn't just stopped talking to Harriet, they'd abandoned her completely and even sort of bullied her. I've had that happen to me, and it's the worst feeling in the world. That your best friends, who know most of your secrets, can do that, is awful, and so I never really cared about Sukie or Leigha. If they had walked in front of a bus, I probably wouldn't have felt sad because they were horrible, awful girls. Leigha in particular was just plain evil, and her vendetta against Harriet was spiteful and nasty, and it surprised me that sensible Nicky, sweet, sensible, stuck in the middle Nicky, allowed her to be that way.

Harriet and Adam were by far my favourite characters. I was so taken in with their story, I adored seeing the relationship develop from friends to something more and I felt Lawless did them justice. It was so sweet. Of course, it didn't stay that way, but for that while, I felt happy for the pair, which made it worse when the inevitable happened. I quite liked Johnny, Adam and Miles's flatmate, too, though I don't agree with the things he did, but I can also understand he was under Leigh's spell so I sort of had pity for him. This was such a wonderful read, one I thoroughly enjoyed getting into, and one I wished never had to end because I could have read about their lives indefinitely. Erin Lawless is a fabulous writer, and she deserves all kinds of plaudits for her writing because it is super. I was hooked, let me tell you, and even when the book was down, I was still thinking about it, still wondering about it, desperately hoping for a happy outcome. The only thing I would have wished to have seen in the novel was Leigh's come-uppance. I felt her nastiness deserved retribution, but maybe I'm just being bitter and selfish. Or, y'know, maybe how it ended was her retribution. Who knows? I, for one, can't wait for Erin's next book because The Best Thing I Never Had was mind-blowingly good and everyone should read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2013
I fell headlong into this book from the very first page. Initially, there are a number of characters coming at you all at once but it doesn't take very long for you to get to grips with who's who, thanks to Lawless' flawless writing, and to settle down into this fantastic read.

Having never attended university, I lived vicariously through the 7 friends for the majority of the novel. Their time at uni was undoubtedly my favourite part - with the gang seeming, at times, so fun, free and naive. I warmed to Adam and Harriet immediately, enjoying their interactions and the path they chose to follow.

The book is surprisingly full of emotion. The author creates a world within a bubble, in which only her characters and the reader exist, and this made it easy to get swept up in all the feelings. On one occasion I actually felt very defensive about character, about the injustice she was forced to face and how I wished it could be put right. That's how good it is.

So if you're looking to treat yourself to a book, make sure it's this one.

Reviewed by Charlotte Foreman on behalf of BestChickLit.com
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2013
Anyone who ever shared a house at uni, dealt with the frantic post midnight texts and stomached the outrageous "cocktails" served up in plastic mixing bowls will instantly connect with the gang in Erin Lawless's novel. Jumping between two time periods, the novel focuses on a small close knit group of friends all studying at a fictional university in the mid noughties and later at present day. The core characters are believable with a clear difference in both the style of writing and the characterisation between their student and adult selves. Lawless clearly draws on her own experiences as both a one time student and now a young professional in London to weave a rich tapestry of events with detailed description of the world her characters inhabit. The story is fleshed out nicely with a couple of peripheral characters who are surprising in their originality and provide a bit of comic relief at times from the intense drama of the main characters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I had read so many fantastic reviews on The Best Thing I Never Had by Erin Lawless so I couldn't wait to get started with this one. For those of you who follow my reviews you will know I am always honest with my reviews so I have to start this review by saying that I actually gave up on this book the first time around, I managed to read to 18% before putting it down. The problem I found was that there were so many main characters introduced all at the same time that they all seemed to be blending in to one, I couldn't separate each of the character and because all of my attention was consumed in trying to work out who was who I then couldn't focus on any kind of storyline.

After speaking to other reviewers there were a number of them that had found the same thing but had pushed through and said what a great storyline it is once you got to grips with the characters so I decided to give it another try and I am glad I did pick this up for a second time.

I found that by 22-23% I had managed to work out who was who and by now the storyline had started to roll. The storyline follows the lives of seven friends who have all come together in their uni years enjoying the party scene as well as having to keep up with their studies. The story mainly revolves around the Harriet, Leigh and Adam love triangle, which I am sure many people can relate to. Both women have feelings for Adam but Adam only had eyes for Harriet and the girls friendship takes a massive hit which has a knock on effect on the groups friendships but is Adam and Harriet's love for one worth the hurt of losing close friends.

Putting the start of the book aside I soon found that I was hooked and was flying through the pages eager to see what was going to happen next. There were characters I loved such as Adam and of course Harriet who was easily my favourite character, she was caring, loving and friendly and would be someone who I could see myself being friends with. There were also Leigh and Sukie who I loathed they are to me classic mean girls but they played a perfect part in this storyline.

There were fun and entertaining parts in the book as well as the friendships and romance which gave a real mix of content. I loved that I was never quite sure if Harriet and Adam were going to end up together or not and this is what kept me intrigues as I just had to find out if they would get their Happy Ever After. The authors writing flowed beautifully in the second half of the book and if it wasn't for the challenging start of this book then it would have been a full 5 star review but I look forward to reading another book by this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The Best Thing I Never Had is an adult novel about a group of friends in their twenties. It's split into two parts, part one being at university when they're around twenty and part two set in their mid-twenties at one of their weddings. It's a great book, compelling and addictive, and I guarantee you'll have trouble putting it down. By the end of it I felt like these were my own friends, and I was a little sad to let them all go. Still, as this book shows, nothing lasts forever...

At university, Harriet, Leigha, Nicky, Sukie, Miles, Johnny and Adam were inseperable. They spent far too much time together and practically lived on each other's doorsteps. The girls were best friends, as were the boys, and they truly thought nothing would ever ruin that. Until something did. Harriet and Miles become close and they keep a secret, which in turn splits the group down the middle and causes irreparable rifts. Nothing is the same after that, and the later part of the book is a painstakingly honest account of what happens when this group of friends - now older and, hopefully wiser - all meet up again for the first time in years.

This book is about friendship, the kind that's all-consuming and takes over your life. It's about relationships and what happens when they change, but mostly it's about secrets and how they can affect everyone and everything. I was completely engrossed in this book from start to finish, and I couldn't wait to get to the end and find out exactly what had happened. I'll admit I was a bit disappointed with the big finish, mainly because I was expecting something more, something huge that had the power to affect these people's lives so devastatingly. I think I would have liked the book even more had there been more to it in the end, but that's only a minor quibble. The rest of the book is fantastic, utterly gripping and painfully realistic.

Erin Lawless has written a brilliant book about friendships during the most important time of our young lives, a time when everything seems like the beginning of something amazing or the end of the world as we know it. She's explored what happens when something goes wrong in a tight-knit group of people, the consequences and ramifications of one bad decision. It's quite a heartbreaking story when you look at it, though it has its hopeful moments too. It makes you think, that's for sure. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Erin Lawless writes next, and I'm sure I won't be the only person forming an orderly queue to get a copy!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2014
These sort of romance novels aren't usually my cup of tea, but I was persuaded to read this by a good friend. I was pleasantly surprised! I felt myself connecting with the characters instantly and I found myself transported back to my University days. I would highly recommend this to anyone considering a nice, lighthearted sort of romance novel. You won't regret it (especially at 99p!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2014
Isn't it lovely when you read a book that it seems everyone is recommending and it lives up to the hype? Well, this is certainly the case with Erin Lawless's novel. My first tip to you all is to pick up this book to read when you have time to concentrate on it solely, because there are quite a few characters to get used to in the beginning, but so worth the effort getting to know them!
The story follows two groups of best friends & university flatmates - there's the girls - Harry (sweet, but with an edge I loved) Suki (prickly) Leigha (has a lot of issues this one!) and Nicky (nice, sweet). And there's the boys - Adam (heartthrob, good or bad, read the book to find out!) Johnny (naive but a good guy) and Miles (a little boring, but decent)

The lives & loves of the two groups become entwined when Miles moves in with Johnny & Adam and he introduces them to his girlfriend Nicky and her flatmates.
They all become one big unit and do everything together, but invariably with a group this size of boys and girls, there's gonna be trouble. There are love triangles, unrequited love from a few directions and secrets and lies that will ultimately cause a huge rift between the group in an explosive showdown.

I fell in love with some of the characters and disliked intensely others and found myself a few times talking to my kindle, as I shook my head in disbelief at something that had transpired. I loved in particular (this won't give away the story I promise!) how the author described the aftermath of the big fight that happens in 2006. The truth about cats and dogs right there in how the author describes the conversations had by the girls in one house and then conversely by the boys in the other. Really loved that.

When you read it, you will recognise how cruel & bitchy girls can be sometimes, how everything always seems so dramatic when only 20 years old and lastly how painful first love can be.
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