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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 December 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I read a book by Harriet Evans earlier in the year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was looking forward to reading her latest book but wasn't prepared for the bumper book that landed on my doorstep. At 420 pages it's certainly a hefty book but that didn't put me off at all.

The book starts off early in Elle's life when she was a young girl and then quickly moves to her starting out her working life doing the one thing she loves; books! Elle is a character that if I am being honest I didn't warm to straight away. Her life is made so complicate by her incessant need to worry about everything. She comes across as a very naïve girl trying to make her way amongst the other more glamorous women working in publishing.

Her boss Rory was also a character that I didn't particularly like, although that didn't change throughout the book. The story was interesting and Harriet Evans writing style is very easy to read. However, the first part of the book was set in 1997 and then there was a jump to a few years later as we literally see Elle grow up.

As each section of the book takes us to a point further in Elle's life, I admit I liked her a little more, but her life itself left a lot to be desired. Some of the other characters in the book stuck around for longer than others but only one or two stuck out for me. Elle's friend Tom was a nice guy, as was Sam her flatmate, but the rest just didn't sit well with me.

The further into the book I got the more I enjoyed it, but towards the end which took place in 2008 over ten years later I felt like the story hadn't quite taken the turn I expected. The story held interest for me, and I actually liked the fact that we see Elle grow up but by the time I finished I wasn't quite sure how I felt.
Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I read more of Harriet Evan books? Yes, definitely? Well then why was I still unsure? That I don't actually know, but can only say that maybe I felt something was missing. Overall a good read but certainly not a favourite for me.
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on 28 January 2012
I am a loyal reader and ordered this on release day. Eleanor Bee is the main character and her story evolves from being a teenager in the middle of her parents divorce to Eleanor in her thirties as a successful woman in the publishing world. It addresses alcoholism very well as Eleanor is as much in denial about her mum's drink problem as her mother. The book shows the devastation this disease has on families and touches on the hereditary factor with Elle's grandfather having the same problem and Elle herself at one point. The guilt, secrecy and isolation associated with alcoholism is so well explored and so sad.

There is a wide cast of characters in the book from Rory, the son of her first boss who uses Elle to Tom the book shop owner who appears throughout the book as a solid friend. All characters help the story to evolve including Elle's colleagues and family. At times I wanted to shake Elle for being pathetic and doing silly things, but then I think it made her real and I could relate to her insecurities easily.

The ending was predictable in a way and I wasn't sure whether that was deliberate or not. It was good all the same.

This is not as easy a read as Harriet Evans' other books and I found it hard going at times. However, it is worth a read, but don't expect it to be light and fluffy.
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on 1 February 2013
I've read all of Harriet Evans books and enjoyed them. I admit I'm a rom com book kind of gal and I don't mind a big book and this book is bigger than previous books, which I thought was great before I opened the pages.

The other reviews here take you through the plot so I won't to do that in more detail because you'll already have a gist of the story.

I will say I started enjoying the book but throughout it kept leaping years and I felt left characters hanging or simply by the time I'd got to the 2 x jump ahead, I'd forgotten who someone was who'd been mentioned before but the jumping forward years had just taken over.

The ending is a bit predictable and you can spot it fairly early but that's not a bad thing. I always enjoy the read getting to the point of them getting together.

All in all it's an okay read, I didn't find myself warming to any of the characters except Felicity maybe but I thought by the size of the book we'd cover more, not less and it has the feeling of someone editing and taking chunks out to avoid more pages which is sad and leaves you feeling like you missed out on the in between period, or the plot timing should have been different so you didn't have such big time gaps with missing information/plots.
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on 1 December 2014
I started off actually liking this well enough, as the set-up was very powerful. I particularly enjoyed Elle’s difficult relationship with her brother – that scene at the start when they’re children is simply brilliant. Sadly, we don’t stay in this childhood moment as we’re quickly tumbled into Elle as a young woman trying to make her way in the publishing world.

Entirely due to the great start, I was prepared to give Elle the benefit of the doubt and kept my determination going for a good 100 pages or so. Gradually it dawned on me that, no matter how much I tried to deny it as a reader, Elle is simply a doormat, and a dull one to boot. Sorry, but she just is. Yes, I know she’s a borderline alcoholic with an alcoholic mother, and surely medically depressed, but every time there’s a crisis she simply just keels over and agrees with whoever the strongest person in any particular scene is. I have to say it’s never her. If you want interesting depressive and/or alcoholic women in your fiction, you’re better off with Marian Keyes. However, there was one moment when I got rather excited because Elle was about to launch into a very justified row with her bitchy boss, but the moment said boss challenges her, Ellie gives in and just agrees. Sigh …

There’s also an allegedly torrid affair between her and another boss, Rory, whom she’s obsessive about but really I just didn’t believe anyone would be interested enough in her to bother. That goes for the on-off relationship with an ex-colleague too – and the moment when she realises (no serious spoilers here) that he’s fathered a child by someone else has to be one of the great clichés of romantic fiction – so clichéd that I couldn’t help but laugh uproariously. Sorry …

Then the storyline jumps again and we’re a few years on and she’s living and working in New York. Sadly she’s not any more interesting than she was in the UK and for the rest of the book, I did even more sighing. The relationships she has with the two possible men she’s supposed to be with are worryingly unrealistic, and indeed neither man is very nice or even interesting. As a result, the ending is nonsensical. Or would have been if I’d cared enough about what happens to her. If the novel had lost 150 pages or so, it might have been better as Elle wouldn’t have been so intensely boring and irritating. That said, the book covers she’s responsible for in her publishing job sound nice – maybe these pictures should have been included in the novel as they would certainly have been more riveting than our heroine. Oh well.

Verdict: 2 stars. Decent enough plot, but a too dim and unlikeable heroine
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VINE VOICEon 8 December 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On first sight this book looks like your normal run-of-the-mill chicklit and pretty sure I have said this already about this author but will say again, they are better than the cover might make you think. Eleonor Bee sets off to London. She is 22 and wants to be a literary superstar. She doesn't believe in Happy Ever After having seen what her parent's divorce did to the family and is determined to avoid falling in love and/or getting married. Of course, we know that in the end she will do both those things, but she steadily rises in her profession until she becomes a respected editor working in New York. Along the way she has been involved with various men, some good, some bad and one a total rotter (the most charming naturally), and feels she is pretty male proof. Well, we the reader know better but this is a really well written, funny, witty and amusing book and, as with all the others by this author, I loved it.
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VINE VOICEon 26 January 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've read Harriet Evans before and enjoyed her books, unfortunately I didn't enjoy this one quite as much. I loved the fact that it was set around the world of books and publishing but from the start, I didn't like the main character, Elle and didn't engage with her throughout the book. As a naïve and daft 22 year old, going into raptures over having post it notes and a computer on her desk in her new job, she just didn't seem believable. As she grew older, I didn't like the person that she became. She has a difficult relationship with her family, her parents divorced because of her mother's fondness for alcohol and she doesn't have an easy relationship with her brother. She keeps the feeling of guilt and failure (in her eyes) most of the way through and a lot of the time I wanted to shake her away from her feeling of responsibility for other people, in particular, her mother. Despite the fluffy looking cover, the book covers some darker issues like alcoholism and how easy it can be to go down that road and how decisions made by others can affect you for life.

Elle does go on to make a success of her career but her feeling of guilt and not belonging have a knock on effect on her relationships until eventually she has to decide which it is she actually wants from life. I did like the book, but I wasn't engrossed by it.
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on 4 February 2013
I found this book incredibly dull. It started well but then just dragged and dragged. I really found it difficult to like the main character Eleanor Bee. spoiler alert: At the beginning she is so feeble it's unreal then she goes of to New York and after a couple of years emerges as this powerful career woman. It was too big a leap to be believable. There was an air of pretentiousness about snotty Eleanor who wants to live a certain life and project a certain image. The derogatory comment about Primark and Peacock shoppers was unnecessary. The author has obviously been influenced by the likes of Bridget Jones and The Devil Wears Prada. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth could easily have been the basis for the books 2 male leads and Anne Hathaway's character in the Devil Wear's Prada was strikingly similar to Elle Bee. Really couldn't take the book seriously when she arrives back in the UK only to find out she is taking a workshop at a publishing lecture with her 2 ex lovers - so contrived Oh and the love scenes were cringe making.
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on 10 August 2014
This follows Elle from a teenager with an unhappy childhood dreaming of her happy ending and goes through to adulthood. Along the way you read about her jobs and romantic entanglements and meet characters along the way. All the characters are enjoyable although not all likeable but they all bring something to the book and to Elle's life. Elle has her difficult moments but it is a pleasure to get caught up in them and feel the emotions she goes through. Overall this is a great summer beach read.
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on 22 May 2015
Great story, at first Ellie is a little difficult to like but eventually start warm her as she is a relatable character. The story leaps from her been stuck in the middle of a divorce to her later in life. The story gets better as it goes on as it holds your interest.
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on 7 March 2015
I liked the simplicity of this book the wanting to find out if you had guessed the ending and not putting the book down until... Yep the end... Yes I would recommend this to those who enjoy a little romance with a twist of fate...
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