Charley is a finicky, difficult businesswoman with a to-do list as long as her arm and an enormous crush on her boss John. She lives with the lovable and useless Sam who is often trying to get her to relax. After taking a tumble down a steep hill in Scotland she manages to find herself holed up in hospital with very little to do but heal. When a small business idea is formed she grabs the chance with both bruised hands and begins to work.
‘First Date Aid’ offers clients a unique service: they hand over their details and the website writes those tricky first missives for them. Charley has a huge success rate of writing witty banter and so gets to work setting up all those strangers with her repertoire of light-hearted words. The trouble is when an email from William comes along …
This novel is warm, amusing and fast-paced. The eclectic cast of characters – notably Malcolm the dog, Margot the obsessed, jealous workaholic and the formidable form of Granny Helen – allows this book to rise above similar novels. The quips are witty, and importantly, believable.
The email exchanges are a wonderful addition to the book and William becomes the most gorgeous man in cyberspace.
The dialogue is a huge strength and Robinson clearly invested a lot of energy in the book. It bounces off the page.
Sam is a delight to read. His wonderfully familiar character flaws (messy and chaotic) are neatly eclipsed by his better traits (thoughtful and funny).
Charley should have been an irritating character to root for but her foibles are explained away and the reader finds themselves very much on her side from the first page.
This is an enjoyable example of women’s fiction executed well. More please!
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 @CescaWrites