Be careful what you wish for… 4 stars
Source- a free eBook version of this novel was provided to me by the author in exchange for a review.
Self published by Kindle Direct- 15th September 2012.
Kindle edition- 223 pages.
I am known to be quite discerning when it comes to my choice of chicklit. It has to be well written with likeable, plausible characters to engage me enough to keep reading. Some degree of froth is good- but with just the right degree of balance to prevent it being pushed over into the ‘twee’ or cringey category. I have picked up some doozers in my time; believe me- a lot of which I couldn’t even finish.
That’s why I am so pleasantly surprised by what an engaging read ‘Just Wishing’ actually was; particularly given that it was a debut, self-published novel. It was also reassuring to see correct grammar, punctuation and no noticeable spelling mistakes that I could discern throughout- again, another pet peeve of mine. Thusly, I read this from cover to cover on a rainy Sunday afternoon and it was actually the perfect escapist read.
Pam is a Liverpool-based secretary who isn’t content with her lot. She covets the wardrobes and bodies of the rich and famous, particularly the WAGS (wives and girlfriends) of the premiership footballers and spends her days wishing her life could be different, despite the assurances from her friends that she is terrific just the way she is. One drunken evening, Pam clicks on an advert through Facebook promising her three wishes. Pam’s wishes? To be a millionaire… to be a size six…
Before she can make a third drunken wish however, her computer fizzles out. Pam heads to bed and thinks nothing more about the advert- until she awakens the next day a few stone lighter and with a bank balance of six figures…
This story explores the question of what happens when someone gets everything that they had thought they ever wanted- and the repercussions that it actually has. I immediately felt some sort of affinity with Pam, who though not always likeable felt very real. I could identify with her feeling her life had passed her by to some degree and that she was stuck in a job she didn’t like. Oh, and her issues with her weight struck a chord too: I would love to drop a good few dress sizes overnight! I think that is why this book is so appealing in a sense: who doesn’t dream of the chance to change their life? The fact that Pam actually gets the opportunity to make this happen and the wishes that she chooses will undoubtedly resonate with a lot of girls out there. Some aspects of the story are poignant too- it isn’t all just humour, holidays, boozy nights out and shopping; there is depth given to the characters, especially to Pam’s previous relationships and as to Matt’s background and fractured relationship with his parents. Gabriella also has trouble with an abusive partner, though this is something I would have liked to have seen explored a bit more than it was. I enjoyed the way that the book focused on the group of friends and Pam’s journey and how her new lifestyle impacted on their friendship.
If I had to make any criticisms of this novel I suppose it would be that the ending was a little bit rushed for my tastes. Again, this is down to personal preference; an open ending is always good as it lets the reader form their own opinions, but I sometimes enjoy it when everything is tied up with a neat little bow! I can’t be too critical though- this ending still left me with a smile on my face and I was glad to discover how Pam’s story ended. There was also a reference to something that had happened to Pam a while ago- something serious- but it was mentioned once (briefly) and then never again. I would have perhaps liked to have seen this elaborated on just a little bit more than it was.
Laura Rose is a talented new voice in women’s fiction and I’m glad I read this novel- it certainly proves that money can’t buy happiness and that being thin isn’t everything, which is assuring (though I would still love to be a size ten!). I think fans of Victoria Connelly or ‘Sophie Kinsella’ are sure to appreciate this book and I will definitely read what Laura Rose comes up with next. This was a fun, escapist novel and most certainly a solid debut within the chicklit genre- great stuff!