Goodness, it’s over two years since I last reviewed a book by Jill Mansell here on Being Anne – how unforgivable! Many thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for squeezing me in on the last day of the blog tour for This Could Change Everything – published in paperback by Headline Review on 12th July, and available in hardback and all e-formats too. I’m having a little break from full-on blogging at the moment to catch up on books I really want to read, and a new book by Jill Mansell really was an essential addition to my “sheer enjoyment” reading list: thank you to the publishers for my reading e-copy.
If Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that went viral – she’d never have found out just how much life there is to be lived… On the one hand, if Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that only her best friend was meant to see – then she’d still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding… On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn’t accidentally taken the internet by storm that is) she never would have met Zillah and Conor – not to mention Lucas. And she’d never have found out just how much life there is to be lived…
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I haven’t always been a reader – after completing my degree in English Lit back in the 70s, I didn’t read a book for years, and just couldn’t enjoy the experience any more after all the reading to deadlines and needing to forensically appraise the content. Jill Mansell started me reading again – it was (I think) Fast Friends, on a holiday in then unspoilt Kos in the early 90s, and at long last I was reading again and enjoying it. So her books have always had a rather special place in my heart – and do you know, she just gets better and better.
The only little snag with being one of the last on a tour full of wonderful reviews is to find something new to say. The story is just wonderful – one of those perfect ensemble pieces that I always enjoy, filled with the most wonderful characters. There’s humour, heartbreak, vivid settings, real heart-stopping drama, moments of tenderness, relationships that look impossible, strong and believable romance, contemporary issues, untruths and misunderstandings, friendships that make your heart sing – and I think this might just be my favourite Jill Mansell book yet.
But it’s those characters that I really want to focus on most – and with my fondness for well-drawn older characters I really couldn’t have failed to find Zillah the book’s star. From her first appearance, she brought a smile to my face – I just loved her style and panache, her gentle humour and ease with relationships, her kindness and generosity, and her rich and convoluted personal history.
The pacing of this book is just perfect – the way the different threads of story are knotted and then untangled the sign of an author totally comfortable with her craft. I so loved some of the little things – like the tying up of a small thread left dangling at the book’s beginning beautifully picked up near its end (which brought a little tear to my eye). I loved this one – and really mustn’t leave it so long again before reading another book by one of my favourite authors.
About the author
Jill Mansell is the author of over twenty-five Sunday Times bestsellers including The One You Really Want, To The Moon and Back, You and Me, Always and Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay. Take A Chance On Me won the RNA’s Romantic Comedy Prize, and in 2015 the RNA presented Jill with an outstanding achievement award.
Jill’s personal favourite amongst her novels is Three Amazing Things About You, which is about cystic fibrosis and organ donation; to her great delight, many people have joined the organ donor register as a direct result of reading this novel.
Jill started writing fiction while working in the NHS, after she read a magazine article that inspired her to join a local creative writing class. Her first book was published in 1991 and she is now a full-time novelist. She is one of the few who still write their books by hand, like a leftover from the dark ages. She lives in Bristol with her family.