Described as ‘the UK’s funniest rom-com writer’ on her website, Lucy-Anne Holmes’ has produced her third novel, "(Un)like a Virgin" to once again make her readers laugh out loud. Based on the title; front cover and blurb on the back I was expecting a very light-hearted read; to be honest I wondered whether it would be a little too light-hearted for my liking when I received it from the publishers.
This book is written in first-person and tells the story of Gracie Flowers, a 26 year-old ambitious, but warm and friendly estate agent who has just a few days left before reaching the deadline of her self-imposed five-year life plan. Gracie reaches every goal with ease, with the exception of the one remaining goal, when the promotion everyone thinks she will get is suddenly handed to newbie Posh Boy. Gracie is gutted and this sparks a spate of bad fortune for her. Not only is she dumped by her long-term boyfriend Danny (or rather, by his Mum); her Mum (who has never been the same since the death of Gracie’s beloved father) appears to be going a little more crazy every day; and a dastardly construction company are trying to build over the grave of said father which Gracie movingly visits each week without fail. All this and I’m yet to mention the re-surfacing of a singing dream Gracie had put to rest with her father many years previously.
There’s so much going on in this book I can’t possibly do it justice in a few paragraphs – I loved that about this book, there’s simply no opportunity to get bored. You quickly warm to Gracie, her friends and family. Gracie’s memories of special times spent with her father are drawn on quite early in the book so you feel an emotional connection with them from the onset which just deepens the more the book progresses. Once cowardly Danny is out of the way there are two possible love interests for Gracie, another strength of this book was that it completely keeps you guessing as to what will happen next, you can see her with either character, they both appear eligible and good-matches, but with whom, if either of them, will she form a relationship?
All the characters are well-developed and their stories are all important to Gracie. As a reader I felt really rewarded how everything was neatly tied together at the end of the book. It was also a hilarious read, I can’t emphasise that enough, I haven’t come across many books that will make me laugh out loud as much as this one did; constantly amusing but never in a trying to be kind of way! This book was also incredibly moving and emotional which perhaps doesn’t resonate with the cover – I cried more than once; I also sang more than once - I think I will be singing John Denver’s Annie’s Song for a few days to come. Gracie and her family go through a lot in this book, but even if it is sad in parts the book always remains uplifting and that comes through having Gracie as the narrator throughout and the excellent and seemingly effortless story-telling.
My only negative is the title, I didn’t think it really represented the story that well, my automatic thoughts were that it would be about cheesy karaoke when it’s a lot more sophisticated than that. Overall I’d say this is one of the best chick-lit books I’ve read recently and I would definitely recommend it. I could really see this book working as a film too. There’s no question that I’ll be adding Lucy-Anne’s other books to my ‘to read’ list.
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