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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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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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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 27 June 2013
Harriet Evans is an author whose name I had heard a lot of via facebook.

I adore the cover. Classic white with the title emblazoned in black, a shimmer of gold for the author's name and a tasteful, understated image of a bookshop. Perfect.

I also loved the book. Firstly, it is a book about books, and that always makes my heart sing. It balances romance and relationships with the serious issue of alcoholism, which makes it stand out from other books in the genre.

Eleanor Bee is the protagonist, a quiet, bookish girl determined to become a success. Working for a publisher Elle grows in confidence, working her way up in the publishing world. 'Happily Ever After' is ultimately a love story-love for partners, friends and family are all explored in an honest way that I could relate to. Elle's family are dysfunctional and affected by alcohol misuse, and this was dealt with sensitively throughout. Whilst I didn't cry, there were certainly some moments where my heart grew heavy for Elle, particularly in relation to her family.

I also absolutely loved the underlying message that all reading is good (let's face it, it is). As Elle states 'Why is someone only passionate about books if they're into literary books that win prizes? Why can't you be passionate about books and only read romance?' I wanted to high five her for that comment alone.

Overall, this might be my first Harriet Evans book, but it won't be my last. A solid storyline, well constructed, likeable characters and book recommendations at the end-what more could I ask for?

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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 9 November 2015
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An interesting read. I enjoyed having this 'on the go', and found it entertaining and a little amusing at times.
Well written, and with a satisfying ending.
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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 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 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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It's weird to me that Harriet Evans has written quite a few books and yet I've somehow only managed to only read a few of her books. I was glad to be sent a copy of her latest book Happily Ever After for review because I think the story sounded great, and I always have a soft spot for books which feature characters that have something to do with books (other than featuring in one of course!). I think the cover is really gorgeous as well, the white works really well with the red and green highlights, and is certainly enticing. It's quite a large book at nearly 500 pages, but I found it a very enjoyable that whizzed past as I read, and here's why.

Eleanor Bee, or Elle as she prefers to be called, was always a bit of a shy child, probably not helped by the awful relationship had by her parents as well. Elle loves books, and when she grows up, she manages to get a job working for an independent publishers Bluebird Books. Elle takes a while to settle in, and when things happen that she doesn't expect, Elle's life begins to suddenly change. Her relationship with her mother disintegrates as the alcohol problem plaguing their lives comes to the forefront again, and her job takes her in unexpected directions. Put this together with her poor relationships with men and Elle is starting to feel a bit lost with everything.

Doesn't sound too jolly so far does it? While the book isn't packed with laughs, it does cover some serious topics, most importantly Elle's mothers struggle with alcohol and how this impacts on not only her life, but Elle's, and the rest of her family too, and not just when they are young children. Some of the scenes are harder to read about than others, but they all play an important part in setting up the books, and the consequences the actions of all the characters have on each other. I found Elle's story quite sad really, she constantly blames herself for her mother's condition and as a reader, we're really wanting her to realise she isn't to blame. It does however highlight how hard it can be for children of alcoholic parents dealing with the responsibility, and the knock on effect it had for Elle with her brother and her father also was hard to read about.

I liked how Elle changed as a character as the moves on in time, and we can see the difference in her as her home life changes, and her role at work changes. Probably the only consistent thing about Elle in the book is her love of books, and I really loved her passion for the best stories she could find, and her job in publishing was really enjoyable to read about. Elle is determined to never give up on succeeding in publishing, and this was definitely my favourite part of the book. Overall, I felt it was a really good read that had me intrigued from start to finish, wondering how things would end up for Elle, both for her family life and in her relationships as well. Her mother's alcohol problems affects every part of her life, and it's fascinating to read about her learning to put that behind her a bit to try and move on with her life. I found Evans' writing style easy to read, and I enjoyed that the book spanned a good portion of Elle's life, not just a few months as is usually the case in books. I'd definitely recommend this, but don't expect a light-hearted and fluffy read - Happily Ever After certainly delivers a lot more than that.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My first Harriet Evans, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mind you, I thought I wouldn't at the start - the book follows Elle as she grows, and the young daft girl when she starts work makes you think this is going to be silly and fluffy stuff. As she matures, and faces life's problems, the book becomes something quite different. There's real heartbreak in these pages, a story told in slices of time, with a lead character (and some supporting ones) that you develop a real affection for. This is a really well written book - the style grows up with the character. And I really loved the ending. Recommended, and don't be put off by the first 50 pages.
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