Happily Ever After, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


Absorbing storytelling at its very best - the compelling novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author You can't escape the ties that bind.

The past catches up with you no matter how far you try to run...This is a story of a girl who doesn't believe in happy endings. Or happy families. It's the story of Eleanor Bee, a shy, book-loving girl who vows to turn herself into someone bright, shiny and confident, someone sophisticated.

Someone who knows how life works. But life has a funny way of catching us unawares. Turns out that Elle doesn't know everything about love. Or life. Or how to keep the ones we love safe...Absorbing, poignant and unforgettable, Happily Ever After is a compelling story of a fractured family and a girl who doesn't believe in love.




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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 worldEntirely 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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