Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: Working it Out

By Melissa Amster

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."-Khalil Gibran

This is the first quote readers see when they start reading "Working it Out" by Nicola May. It is also the philosophy that guides Ruby Matthews after she is made redundant by her marketing job. She decides to try different kinds of jobs (one a month for an entire year) and see what she loves best. From working at a retirement home for actors to a nanny gig in France and even helping in a funeral home, Ruby learns a lot about what Khalil Gibran meant and also about herself in the process. Alongside her various jobs come various men and Ruby also learns a lot about love, as a result.

I really enjoyed reading this story. It was cute and had a clever concept. I found myself laughing at some of the funny situations Ruby got herself into, as well as being able to sympathize with her when things were not going her way. The secondary characters were a blend of funny, charming and frustrating (the "villains" were, for the most part). The descriptions Ms. May used made the characters and scenery come to life for me. It read like a Sue Margolis novel, which is a high standard that has been set for me already. I found myself getting into the story and not wanting to put it down. It was sweet, inspiring and romantic.

Having said that, there are some things I would have changed about "Working it Out." The first thing is the excessive use of "potty language." I'm talking more about bodily functions than about swearing. If I want to hear about farts and "pooh" (not the bear), I can talk to my kids. I felt those references took away from the beauty of the novel. Keeping that in mind, I didn't see any swearing because it was hidden in all the British slang. I didn't know what the characters were saying half the time and wished there was some translation provided by way of footnotes or a dictionary. I know that's so American of me to say, but most British novels I've read have translated really well into American culture as either slang is not used at all or it is used sparsely. Regardless of the potty talk, I wouldn't have minded some "spice" in Ruby's bedroom (or wherever else she was doing it). Ms. May implied that Ruby was getting a lot of action, so to speak, but we didn't get to see any of it actually happening. I like a steamy novel that can make me blush and Ms. May is about halfway there. Aside from all of that, there were some time inconsistencies that nagged at me because of all the mental math I do in my head while reading a book.

Overall, this was a pleasurable read and something I would definitely recommend. It had a true chick lit feel to Sue Margolis meets Lindsey Kelk. I think readers would definitely be won over by Ruby and her family and friends. There was an element of predictability, but I enjoyed where it led and Ms. May still managed to keep me on my toes anyway. I applaud Ms. May for this entertaining story that kept me sane during a crazy week. I look forward to reading her other novels soon.

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1 comment:

Louise said...

Looks good - I love the concept of changing your life once a month. I'll definitely be adding this to my to-be-read pile. Another one....