Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Alison Wonderland - Helen Smith

After her husband leaves her for another woman, twentysomething Londoner Alison Temple impulsively applies for a job at the very P.I. firm she hired to trap her philandering ex. She hopes it will be the change of scene she so desperately needs to move on with her shattered life. At the all-female Fitzgerald’s Bureau of Investigation, she spends her days tracking lost objects and her nights shadowing unfaithful husbands. But no matter what the case, none of her clients can compare to the fascinating characters in her personal life. There’s her boss, the estimable and tidy Mrs. Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison’s eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbour; and—last but not least—her psychic postman. Her relationships with them all become entangled when she joins Taron for a road trip to the seaside and stumbles into a misadventure of epic proportions! Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, this humorous literary novel introduces a memorable heroine struggling with the everyday complexities of modern life.

Review: This is not the kind of book I would usually pick up. I have given a bit of mystery and fantasy a go before and the haven't really grabbed me in the way contemporary romance novels do, however, having heard a really funny extract from this novel, I really wanted to read it and so the lovely Helen Smith sent me this copy with a gorgeous rich red front cover (not that I'm judging the book by its cover alone).

I found it a little hard to get into over the first few pages, characters were being introduced and situations explained and I found myself having to concentrate quite hard to keep up. Once I got into the storyline, i read a massive chunk of the novel all in one go, wanting to find out how it panned out. If you are a fan of indie films I think you will enjoy this book as I felt like I was watching an original independent film with a touch of magic, a bit of confusion and just enough mystery for my liking all mixed in.

The main character Alison has some unusual friends and what comes across as a mysteriously sneaky boss. I found the relationship between Alison and her best friend to be really original, I really felt like I was getting to know the truth about what Alison thinks of Taron which is utterly refreshing and not what is usually found in the novels that I read. Taron's search for an abandoned baby is an unusual storyline but I think really brings the other background story lines together. I also found Alison's relationship with her neighbour Jeff to be very realistic, his unrequited love for her is almost painful to read, but represents well the pain one feels when one is in that situation!

There are some real laugh out loud moments in the book, particularly the description of Tooting Lido with its venn diagram (I am a massive fan of mathematical diagrams in fiction) but there were also some bits in the book that left me utterly confused and feeling a little bit like I wasn't clever enough to understand what was going on... Overall I enjoyed reading the book and am glad I tried something different from what I normally read. If you are into mystery or fantasy novels, or if you love an indie film, like I do, then you will enjoy this novel. If not, like me, you might like to try something a bit different to break the usual reading habits!

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