She wanted a new life and true love. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side…
All Polly has to her name is a string of failed relationships and a mountain of debt. She sees herself as a hopeless case and would do anything to change her luck.
So when she’s given the opportunity to swap all she’s ever known for a life of luxury, Polly jumps at the chance. Soon, it’s all diamonds, spa days and celebrity parties. Now all that’s missing from her life is a bit of romance. Will hunky Matt be the man to heal her broken heart?
But money can’t always buy you happiness. Can the life she’s always dreamed of get in the way of true love?
You know that club I have of rather special authors – the ones I love, and whose books I always buy, but have never actually read? Carol Wyer’s a member of quite long standing – but I always thought that I’d love her books, mainly because I frequently laugh out loud at her other writing. Humour’s a very personal thing really, but Carol’s frequently on my wavelength – this piece she wrote for Sixty And Me about ageing is just one wonderful example.
But Carol can’t be in that club of mine any more – her first novel for Bookouture, Life Swap, is published today for kindle, and – fanfare of trumpets – I’ve read it. And what’s more, I’m pleased to tell you that I really enjoyed it – but I always rather knew I would.
My review follows further down the page, but first I’m delighted to welcome Carol Wyer as my guest on Being Anne…
Ever have a day when you wonder if this is it for the rest of your life and wish you could just have a break away from it all?
Inspiration for Life Swap came about when I overheard a conversation. We were filming a game show at a country estate filled with magnificent antiques and were being treated like mini royals ourselves.
During a break, one of the contestants who was flicking through a magazine, remarked they would love to genuinely exchange lives with Kim Kardashian. It prompted a lively discussion about whether we would swap lives if we actually could. Most of us were happy enough with our lot in life but the more the suggestions were bandied about the more we thought about it and felt we would like a swap, even if it were just for a day. Some claimed they would like to swap with Bill Gates, President Obama or HRH The Queen while others were happy to swap with anyone whose life seemed more appealing than their own humdrum existence.
The upshot seemed to be that if people could exchange lives, even for a day or a week they would love to and for a variety of reasons.
Having discussed that I’d also be content swapping with someone like Celia Sawyer, a top businesswoman and glamorous entrepreneur who runs an interior design company and has homes in Barbados and Sandbanks, I took the idea one step further.
Many years ago, I studied Christopher Marlowe’s play Dr Faustus in which an educated man offers his life to the devil to gain knowledge. The result is one of humour and tragedy in equal measures.
Armed with thoughts of the play and of the day in Essex, I spent many nights dreaming up a plot that would entertain and surprise the reader. Enter Polly, a woman who deserves a lucky break. Her life is on a steady downward path and so when she is offered the opportunity to exchange her life for one of wealth, parties and freedom, she grabs it but all is not as it appears.
Thanks Carol – and there you have the story in a nutshell really! So what did I make of it?
There may be nothing particularly new about the initial idea behind this story – just Dr Faustus for the modern age, really – but Carol Wyer tackles it with tremendous aplomb and a few twists and turns that make the story uniquely her own.
Your heart breaks for poor Polly, someone for whom life is just one disaster after another: we first meet her standing in for a friend as a living statue of an angel (some might say a fat fairy) in blistering heat in a too-tight costume, and it’s clear she’s hit rock bottom with nowhere to go.
I’m quite surprised though that everything I’ve read about this book focuses on Polly, because there’s a second main character too, and I actually liked him far better. Enter Simon, failing used car salesman, with a marriage which has lost its magic, a monster of a mother-in-law, children who ignore him and a cat who is quite possibly trying to kill him. He’s a wonderful character, a really likeable bloke who hasn’t really done anything particularly wrong, but with a real sadness around the situation he finds himself in.
Then comes the opportunity for both these characters to swap lives with a person they know in exchange for a soul, and the mayhem starts. But it’s not just madcap lunacy – if it was, I wouldn’t have liked it as much. It’s a very funny story – and very touching at times – about how no-one’s life is really as perfect as it seems, with touches of real brilliance in the way the stories twist and turn, and other elements that are totally unexpected but really, really work.
If you’re looking for a total escape from life’s routine, with a few belly laughs along the way, and a real feel-good experience throughout, do try this one. If I say it’s a totally bizarre off-the-wall story, I’m saying it with great affection – I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve never read anything quite like it before. And I can’t imagine anyone doing it much better than Carol Wyer.
Carol E. Wyer is an award-winning author whose humorous books take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. Her book Grumpy Old Menopause won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction 2015.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ‘Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and writes regularly for The Huffington Post.
Recently, she took a crash course in stand up comedy and now tours to sell out audiences with her comedy talk ‘Smile While You Still Have Teeth’. Carol is a signed author with Bookouture and Safkhet Publishing.
To learn more about Carol, go to her website or follow her on Twitter. Carol also blogs at www.facing50withhumour.com and www.grumpyoldmenopause.com.