Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill

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Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: Three different women, whose lives are spiralling towards disaster, find things change after an unexpected accident.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: November 2008
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0340953440

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This book opens with a prologue: a young woman is hurrying to the commuter train to get to work one morning She just makes it... and even manages to grab a seat. She observes a few of the other travellers... and then suddenly, something unexpected and shocking happens.

Then the book moves back four months, and introduces us, one at a time, to the three women who are the main protagonists of this novel.

I found it hard to remember who was whom, since I'm not very good with names and the viewpoint kept switching between them, chapter by chapter. However, there's a handy summary on the back of the book which I referred to frequently.

Rosie is a widowed mother of two young adults. Although she's a likeable person, her offspring have turned out to be manipulative and selfish. Her daughter wants Rosie to act as guarantor for the new - and huge - house she and her husband want to buy, and her son is bad-tempered and unfeeling. Rosie gives in to them both far too easily, but as a mother myself, I could somewhat understand why she did so.

The second main character is Dara, who was was recently married to Mark. He's a good-looking and sensitive guy who's almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, Dara still hankers after Noah, a previous boyfriend, who made her knees weak and her heart race, although he didn't want to settle down. Noah married someone else, but then unexpectedly returns into Dara's life, and she spends a lot of time introspectively wondering what she should do. I felt a bit frustrated with her, since Mark was so obviously the perfect husband who adored her.

Then there's Louise. My frustration with Dara paled to insignificance compared to my annoyance at Louise. She has recovered from an accident, found a job, made some friends, and lost some weight. But she appears to have no clue how to handle money, and keeps getting herself more and more into debt. She seems to be remarkably insecure, and won't refuse her friends anything; she does worry about her mounting credit card debt, but carries on spending yet more. Then Louise meets Sam, another guy who seems almost too good to be true...

These three women don't know each other, although there are some tentative connections now and then, through the book. And we never do discover who the young woman at the start of the book is.

There's not a main plot as such, but a series of subplots involving these three women, which become ever more complex as the story continues. It was a clever move to use the prologue to tell us what was coming, since it raised the tension; more significantly, it meant that when it eventually happened (and subsequently solved some of the problems) it didn't feel like a deus ex machina, but an integral part of the novel.

I found the book enjoyable and frustrating by turn. I didn't feel I got to know any of the three women fully, since their viewpoints alternated throughout the book. On the other hand, I did find that I cared about them. I wanted to sit them all down and give them a good talking-to; they certainly got under my skin sufficiently that I was annoyed by their extreme weaknesses, and pleased when things worked out satisfactorily, on the whole.

I found the conversations believable - if trite, at times - but the amount of personal reflection a bit long-winded and mostly unnecessary. On the whole, the pace of the book was good, and by the last few chapters I found it difficult to put down; however there wasn't much to tug at the emotions, until one or two scenes towards the end.

I was pleased that the author didn't fall into the trap of describing bedroom scenes in detail, nor did she throw in a lot of bad language. I also liked the way she tidied up most of the loose ends in the final chapters, without making them seem rushed. There's not much humour, but it's more thought-provoking than typical light women's fiction; it might even show some people the dangers of increasing debt. I was considering three-and-a-half Bookbag stars, but on reflection, am awarding four. It's unlikely to appeal to men, but suitable for women of all ages.

Thanks to the publisher for sending the book. We also have a review of Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill.

If you liked this, you might also like The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella, or The Nanny by Melissa Nathan.

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Buy Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wishful Thinking by Melissa Hill at Amazon.com.


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