Friday, 13 September 2013

Book review: Life Swap by Jane Green


My edition: Paperback, published in 2006 by Penguin, 464 pages.

Description: Amber Winslow has got the kids, the hubby, the suburban home in Connecticut, USA – and the feeling that somehow life is passing her by.

Vicky Townsley is features editor at Poise! magazine in London, she's single, solvent and seriously successful – but she'd ditch it all for marriage, a country home and kids.

So when one day Poise! offers one lucky married reader the chance to life swap for a month with a glamorous, single journalist, Amber puts pen to paper . . .

But neither Amber nor Vicky gets quite what they were expecting. And soon they find themselves asking: why does the grass look so much greener on the other side?

Rating:



Vicky is a singleton in the bustling city of London and works as a features editor on Poise! magazine. Most of the time she's perfectly happy with her life just the way it is, but every once in a while when she visits her brother and his wife (the sister she never had) and their two gorgeous children in the English countryside she feels a stab of jealousy at their seemingly perfect and idyllic life.

Amber grew up in a trailer park but through hard work and determination she not only managed to get a law degree but also husband with a prestigious family name to boot. He didn't instantly come with the riches expected from the Winslow name but through hard work on his end he's able to support his wife and children admirably and they live in a huge house with a pool in a suburb within commuting distance of New York's Wall Street. Amber seems to have it all; money, a loving husband and the latest of the latest in her wardrobe, but despite all this she feels that something is missing from her life.

One day when Vicky is venting her frustrations in a work meeting, saying that she wished she could swap lives with a married woman, her boss says she should do exactly that. Swap lives for one month to see if the grass really is greener on the other side and report on the experiment for Poise!. And when across the ocean Amber's husbandpicks up that exact edition of the magazine for his wife, the wheels of the story are set into motion...

I received a copy of this novel from the lovely people at Wish List because their team choose it as their next book club title and in return for my copy I agreed to let them know my thoughts after finishing it, so the pressure is on! ;)

How brilliant an idea is it to have two such different women, from different continents even, swap lives like that? I'm sure we've all silently wished every once in a while that our lives could be different, perhaps more similar to that of a colleague, friend or relative who seems to have it all in our eyes. But what we often forget is that while it may all look brilliant on the surface, when you're actually living the life there are always things that aren't quite so great which the outsider doesn't get to see. This book really showed that neither the life of a married woman with lovely children and a lot of money, nor that one of an unattached woman working in an exciting job is perfect 24/7 and that perhaps instead of focussing on what we don't have we should focus on what we do, and try to appreciate it more.

The only thing I'll say about this novel that was slightly disappointing (though "disappointing" is a harsh word) is that it takes a long while for the Life Swap the book is titled after to actually take place (almost half of the book in fact). And because of that there is a lot less time spend on Amber and Vicky exploring and inhabiting their new surroundings than I expected when going into the novel. I realise that author Jane Green wanted to set up the two wildly different lives first, so the reader could get a proper idea on why the two women thought the grass would be greener on the other side, but because the chapters were alternating between the views of the two leading ladies, Vicky's search for the perfect woman to swap with lost a lot of its anticipation from a reader's point of view as you already knew who she was going to choose.

Still, that would be the only nitpick I have about this otherwise very enjoyable novel. The two main characters were realistic and despite their flaws very likeable, the plot centers on a really interesting idea and properly shows the consequences of 'getting what you wish for' and, most of all, it's a book that makes the reader think about their own life and appreciate that what they have been given much more so than before.

You can purchase your copy from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Waterstones or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: http://www.janegreen.com

Facebook: facebook.com/authorJaneGreen

Twitter: @janegreen


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