"I Should Be So Lucky" is the latest novel by Judy Astley. Judy’s first book was published back in 1990 (a children’s book) and she’s since gone on to produce over 15 novels, impressive stuff! I’m almost ashamed to admit then that this is the first of Judy’s books I’ve read!
I love the title of the book, with "I Should Be So Lucky" conjuring up happy memories of doing some awkward pre-teen dancing to Kylie at school discos wishing a certain boy would give me a carefully selected Love Heart’s sweet from the tuck shop...anyways...so what’s the book about?
Viola is in her late thirties and is considered to be more than a tad disaster-prone by those around her, particularly by her rather annoying brother and sister. Viola’s first husband turned out to be gay (but the pair have a teenage daughter together, Rachel); whilst her second husband, a womanising actor, died in a car accident just over a year after they’d married, and just a few moments after he’d told her he was leaving her for another woman. Not wanting to be surrounded by the memories, or the crazy stalker fans who keep blaming her for his death, Viola finds herself living back at home with her Mum (Naomi) and Rachel. But Viola can’t live with her Mum forever, but will going back to her own home be an easy process? Not with certain family members trying to stop her it won’t, but are their cries of concern for Viola’s welfare and that of her mother’s the real reasons for their opposition to Viola and Rachel going home? When Viola decides she has to start living again, she vows to accept every social engagement offer presented to her, what events will this throw into the mix, and what will an impromptu midnight encounter with a seemingly strange gardener/potential murderer mean for Viola?
Despite her family’s perceptions of being unlucky, I enjoyed the fact that Viola is actually a very positive person who is warm and caring; she was a character I very much warmed to and whose company I enjoyed. I wanted to shake some of her family members for being so condescending towards her. I thought the character development was strong, and enjoyed the sense of family bonds and friendships between the three different generations of women, as well as the bonds between Viola and her first husband, who is very much involved in her and Rachel’s lives.
The story is told predominantly from Viola’s viewpoint, although we do delve into the viewpoints of Rachel and Naomi at certain points in the novel, which works well in terms of moving the story forward and adding some twists along the way. I did find some of the language in Rachel’s sections a little grating however, with very literal language being used to portray how teenagers talk; I personally would have preferred a little less of this, as I think the point was made without the need to keep re-emphasising it in the dialogue. Although I suppose it’s tricky to do once you start off that way.
Whilst this wasn’t a book I was gripped to, it is a light book that is enjoyable. I would maybe have liked to see some more twists, I felt some of the events were too predictable for the reader. I thought the last chapters added an element of suspense that regained my interest; I would perhaps have liked to see the level of suspense towards the end built in throughout the rest of the novel as it felt like it was really getting interesting, but maybe a little too late. I saw potential for further development or insight into the siblings stories (from their viewpoints even) and some of Viola’s friends. Some seeds were planted for further intriguing storylines I thought.
Despite the points I’ve made, I want to re-emphasise that I did find this an enjoyable read overall and I’m sure Judy’s dedicated fans will love this book as much as her previous books.
Thanks to Transworld for the book in exchange for an honest review.
More by Judy Astley: