Thursday, 9 April 2015

Book review: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance by Kirsty Greenwood


My edition: paperback (proof), published on 9 April 2015 by Pan Macmillan, 400 pages.

Description: Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she's been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.

Things aren't going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras!

When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.

The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It's going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off...

Rating:



I have been eagerly anticipating Kirsty Greenwood's second novel ever since I finished the delightful Yours Truly and I am glad I didn't have to wait until the official publication date as I picked up my copy at Pan Mac's Women's Fiction Evening in early February. I started reading it straight away (well... on the train home, I managed to restrain myself from sitting down at the party to dig in right there and then) and finished it at rapid speed, it was *that* good. And with the book being released today I can finally share my thoughts with you all and urge you to go out right now to snap up your own gorgeous copy of the fabulous The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance! This is one novel you don't want to miss out on, trust me.

Jessica Beam is not the likeliest of literary heroes. She is wild and careless, and it doesn't come as a huge surprise when all her luck runs out at once and she finds herself an out of work Billy no-mates. And because she'd been sharing a flat with her ex-best friend, she's suddenly homeless too. So in a fit of anger she kidnaps her roommate Summer's cat, Mr Belding, packs her belongings in a bin liner and sets out for the only possible roof-over-her-head she can think of; the house of the grandmother she has never met.

Matilda Beam was an icon back in the 1950s. She penned a series of successful books providing young women with all the advice they needed to behave like proper ladies and snag themselves a suitable husband. Nowadays though, she lives in a house far too big and far too cluttered for just her, and as the unopened bills pile up she is unable to convince her publisher that her books are still very relevant for the 21st century woman and should be reprinted.

When Jess unexpectedly appears on her doorstep she is the least lady-like woman Matilda has ever laid eyes on, yet there is something about her granddaughter that makes Matilda take her in. And when Matilda claims that her vintage guides can provide Jess with everything she needs to get back on top, and catch a handsome man to boot, the two realise that the new-found relationship can be mutually beneficial.

I loved how Kirsty Greenwood forced two absolute opposites like Jess and Matilda together as their completely different views on dating and romance provided a lot of interesting dynamics within the novel. While main character Jess was not at all what I was expecting when I started reading – rather than a sweet and instantly likeable character, as usually is the case in romantic comedy books, she was brash and selfish – this made the story exciting and unexpected. I did not know from the very first page what the conclusion would be, or how Jess' journey would pan out, and that made it a very enjoyable ride indeed.

It wasn't just about Jess and Matilda either, Kirsty has sprinkled her second novel with some fantastic supporting characters as well, from those I instantly loved, such as Matilda's assistant Peach, to those I disliked with a passion (*cough* Summer *cough*). It was an interesting bunch of people and their diversity created some great and very memorable scenes (point in case, Peach's first date).

What makes this foremost such a fantastic novel though, is Kirsty's brilliant voice running throughout. It is incredibly fresh and funny, I dare you not to laugh-out-loud while reading about some of the more 'interesting' situations Jess manages to get herself into. There was definitely some eye-rolling from me, as I couldn't believe what she got up to next, but her escapades also made for a hugely entertaining reading experience. There was even one occasion where she made me laugh until actual tears were running down my face. On. The. Train. People stared.

It wasn't all fun and games though, there was a great story at the core of the novel and the vintage tips throughout appealed to the nostalgic in me as well. And thought not quite going all the way back to the 1950s, I loved the heavy dose of pop culture references running through the story, which will particularly appeal to those who grew up in the 80s and 90s. After finishing the book I had the sudden desire to rewatch Saved By The Bell, The Goonies (Best. Film. Ever.) and The O.C., while listening to some Kings of Leon Live, subliminal message received.

From the eye-catching cover and enticing title to the wonderful vintage tips and the utterly brilliant story hiding within, there is nothing not to love about The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance – this is a rom-com read at its very best.

You can order your own copy of the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.



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

Website: www.novelicious.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KirstyGreenwoodBooks

Twitter: @kirstybooks

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