6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An offer you CAN refuse
, 25 Feb. 2011
This review is from: An Offer You Can't Refuse (Paperback)
Apparently the story of Lola and Dougie, childhood sweethearts who meet again years later, the last time being when Lola unceremoniously dumped him at 17. The twist? Dougie's mother paid a 17 year old Lola a substantial amount of money to do it. The reason why is never really fully explained, other than Dougie's mum making it apparent that she didn't consider Lola 'suitable girlfriend material' for her precious son. Lola takes the money for a 'good' reason, but that's where the doubt kicked in for me - if she loved Dougie so much, why didn't she fight harder to stay with him?
Ten years later and Lola is still behaving like a 17 year old, despite being nearly 28. Dougie comes back on the scene after a very tenuous encounter between Lola and his mother, which is where the story loses any kind of plot it had. Lola's story goes by the wayside in favour of her neighbour and best friend Gabe, who falls for Sally (Dougie's sister) when she moves into his flat (again another long-winded and tenuous link). Lola also meets her real father, who seems amazingly perfect and completely flawless. Worryingly Lola is in the habit of comparing herself to him on a regular basis; nothing like a bit of self-confidence and self-appraisal I suppose.
The main problem with this book is that Lola, along with Dougie and pretty much everyone else in the story, aren't likeable characters. Sally is annoying and quite vapid; Lola is self-obsessed, although she's quick to point out at every given opportunity what a 'nice' person she is; Dougie is just plain unpleasant, which makes it difficult to understand what Lola ever saw in him, and Gabe is, for want of a better word, blah. None of the characters light up the page and the writing style is just plain awful. Mansell seems to love making up her own words to describe things, but rather than adding to the flow of the story, they detract from it and make everyone seem as if they're kids acting in a bad school play.
The ending is wrapped up all too nicely, with Dougie's meddlesome mother despatched of in less than one sentence. As far as I'm concerned, Dougie and Lola, and Gabe and Sally, all deserve one another. This was my first experience of Mansell's work and based on this, it'll be my last.
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