Hallie has a secret. She’s in love. He’s perfect for her in every way, but he’s seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren’t going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn’t have long to live. Time is running out…
Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won’t be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends – let alone anything more.
Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she’s afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.
The story begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she’s about to be given new lungs. But whose?
I really loved this book – I’m saying that up front just in case I run out of words I haven’t used so many times already about Jill Mansell’s wonderful books to tell you why. Truth be told, I simply love everything Jill Mansell writes – but I honestly think this book is her best yet. I’ve reviewed two others since I’ve been writing the blog – Don’t Want To Miss A Thing and The Unpredictable Consequences Of Love – and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find her writing quite perfect.
In this one, Hallie’s certainly not your usual romantic lead. She runs a website where she tries to solve people’s problems, and the questions and her wonderful responses are peppered through the book: the website’s called www.threethingsaboutyou.com, and anyone asking a question has to share three things about themselves. She’s bright and sassy, has some wonderful friends and a mother who cares for her deeply, and has a hidden passion for the local doctor. She’s also exceptionally ill with cystic fibrosis, confined to a wheelchair with all the apparatus to keep her alive, her only hope of recovery is a new pair of lungs.
Tasha meets her new boyfriend in a wonderful scene involving a credit card and a waste bin outside the local McDonalds. He’s perfect, other than his passion for dangerous sports – and the fact that both he and his best friend would really like her to take part. Then there’s Flo – love comes into her life from a very unexpected quarter, but everything’s looking good when Jeremy the (very real) cat gives his seal of approval and settles down on his lap.
As always, there’s a great cast of supporting characters. I particularly loved the sparring between Tasha’s friend Carmel and Joe (Jill Mansell has a gift for the most realistic dialogue), and Zander’s sister Lena is a fantastic (and quite horrific) creation. The men are pretty perfect too – who wouldn’t fall for the Doctor Luke?
The story twists and turns along three separate threads – threads which sometimes cross and overlap – and the whole book is full of the most perfect touches of humour, scenes that you can picture so vividly, and moments of heart-breaking sadness. Don’t think it’s going to be a bit depressing, dealing as it does with Hallie’s illness – the smile will never entirely leave your lips, the moments of greatest sadness actually come from elsewhere, and are quite perfectly judged. The ending is quite wonderful, and leaves you with a tear in the eye to go with the smile on your face – and the whole book is a wonderful journey in getting there.
I’m not always convinced by “if you liked x, you’ll like y” comparisons, they always seem a bit too subjective to me – but I can say that this book had the same sort of impact on me as Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, and a similar flavour. Read my Goodreads review of that one, and you’ll see what high praise that is. As I said, I think it’s her best book yet and, once again, a book that the expression “feel-good” was made for – don’t miss it, whatever you do.
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell will be published by Headline Review on 15 January in hardback and for kindle: the paperback will follow in June. My thanks to netgalley and the publishers for my advance reading e-copy.
Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet Tweeting and marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she actually write.