Spellbound Hardcover – 16 Jan 2003
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Jane Green's sixth novel has a touch of Pygmalion about it. Alice Chambers, the heroine of Spellbound was known as "wallpaper" at school a "shy, mousy girl" who tended to disappear into the background. As an adult she runs a successful catering company but things remain pretty much the same. That is until Joe Mitchell, a crush from Alice's teenage years, decides to make her his fair lady: "with a diet, a decent hairdresser and a new wardrobe she'd be a whole new woman by the time he'd finished with her"--and, yes, you can grit your teeth at this very un-feminist idea! Joe works hard and earns lots of money, Alice has a lovely house and enviable clothes, and they both live happily ever after.
No of course they don't. Alice soon realises that "Joe is not the knight in shining armour she had once thought", largely due to his serial philandering. When his affair with a coworker is discovered, he is forced by his company to move to New York, and Alice goes too. It is at this point, in their new country home, that Alice is forced to face up to all that is wrong with her life. Feeling "quite happy" is no longer good enough, nor is staying with a man who "loves his wife", but who "is addicted to having affairs". It's time for Alice to pursue her own dreams, no matter how painful the process. Spellbound is an old fashioned story of metamorphosis, but told with the modern economy and wit that is Jane Green's trademark. --Eithne Farry
Simply the highest quality a chick can get...Spellbound will have you hungrily turning page after page...So delicious you'll want to wolf it down in one go (Heat)
Green whips up a sparkling morality tale that points the finger at bad boys and low-rent romance (Independent)
Compulsively readable (Sunday Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The relationships between Alice and Joe, Alice and her quirky best friend Emily, and Joe and his mistresses held my attention for about half way through the book. But by the second half `TO HAVE AND TO HOLD' really started to drag. There were long drawn out descriptions of Alice's dream home and too much talk of gardening. I also began to find myself frustrated with Alice for not seeing what was going on right underneath her nose.
If this is the first Jane Green book that you have read or are thinking about reading, please try `JEMIMA J.', `MR. MAYBE' or `BOOKENDS' any of which I guarantee you will love!
Even though this is chick lit, the characters are far from one-dimensional, and the situations they find themselves in are very believable. This is a warm, touching, gossipy and in places pretty funny book
The characters: all well out of my sphere of experience, falling into posh southerner and city folk categories. Joe, a womaniser who likes to have his trophy wife at his beck and call. And Alice, the trophy wife who will do anything for her husband even when it means changing herself and her wishes. She is essentially Spellbound to him. Then on the edges we have a collection of small town American folk described with interchangeable personalities exactly as I imagine they would be in a part of the world which has the equivalent of the WI running it and then the more normal Harry and Emily. " Alice, whatever Joe might have thought, isn't stupid, has never been stupid. She just didn't want to know."
The plot: Alice wants to love her life but Joe sometimes makes that impossible. London society is where he wants to be and, if Alice is out of sight, then he will find a replacement for the excitement. Josie enters his life and they are caught, not by Alice but by work. Joe is transferred to America where he thinks it could be a fresh start. Initially not impressed Alice is mollified when he lets her pick a house in the country, a wreck that Alice models into her perfect home with a wonderful ground area. How will it end? Is Joe done womanising? Will Alice finally show her true self to everyone?
The good: decent writing makes you want to keep reading, well rounded characters give you a snapshot of a life that is so not mine and an ending that will have you cheering. "At 36 Alice finally knows who she is, and Alice finally likes who she is."
The bad: unlikable characters (on purpose), an unexpected (and unnecessary) indiscretion and a time scale I find confusing. It implies time passes but then references specific times which don't fit. BBQ for Saturday take place on Sunday, weeks get cancelled out and turned into days. This could do with a good edit to fix that, unless it's meant to convey, in the first person, the development of Alice coming out of the fog and reaching the point where "Alice now knows that the only person she wants to make happy is herself."
Me, me, me: Overall I starte this book expecting to hate it and ended feeling satisfied. It was likeable and I'd love to meet Harry and Alice's a few years down the line, past the rushed epilogue. It's size and content made it perfect reading for my journey to work and it became the book in my bag over the last few weeks. With a couple of chapters to go it started this rainy bank holiday off perfectly leaving me happy that Alice and Joe finally realised what they wanted. I'd like to see Emily get a happy ending and read more about Al.
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I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put it down !