Katy Regan, a resident blogger at Marie Claire magazine for years, has always made her followers laugh. She has a self-deprecating, cutting humour and her previous books have been amusing. This book is clearly something a little different, a labour of love if the Acknowledgements page is anything to go by.
The book focuses on a group of friends, a university clique, that have been torn apart by the death of one of their number. The impact of Olivia, or Liv’s, death on the group is explored. The different ways in which Norm, Melody, Anna, Fraser and Mia cope with her death is interesting: shrines to her in the house, talking aloud, ignoring it all and blocking it out with drink. Better still we get the sense that there are secrets in this group and you turn the page wanting to have your answers satisfied.
Fraser, the grief-stricken boyfriend is a wonderfully realistic character. He bumbles from disaster to disaster, or barmaids to ice-cold bars, and wins us the reader over with his almond eyes and witty repartee. The central character, Mia, Liv’s best friend and a single mum to Billy, is adorable. Her visits to her friend’s grave to talk to her every year on the anniversary of her death are extremely touching. She is wonderfully frank, good fun, glowing and you desperately want her to find her happy ending.
This is no fluffy read: it’s a book that deals with very real issues. It allows you to question what you might do in the same circumstances. The setting is gritty and unglamorous at times and this is really refreshing. It is a life-affirming book. There are wonderful cameos (the batty old lady, constantly harping on about her ailments and refusing to take the Christmas decorations down because “she’ll only have to put them back up in a few months”) and the pretentious salsa enthusiast Joshi (“what’s wrong with just plain Josh?”)
It’s warm, amusing, surprising and heartfelt. The reader can thoroughly enjoy being immersed in this loveable, dysfunctional gang and discover all the things they’d been hiding from each other and, at times, from themselves.
A great read for any fan of women’s fiction and a great author to find out more about. She can be found at @Katyreganwrites.
Cesca Major reviews and writes novels. She is represented by The Darley Anderson Literary Agency and runs a new company, Book Camp. Follow her on Twitter @CescaReviews.
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