An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell

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An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: £10,000 to leave the man she loves is an offer Lola thinks she can refuse until circumstances change and she has to decide whether she is the sort of girl who can be bought off in this exciting, sweet novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: February 2008
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 978-0755328147

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Lola is ticking along as your average 17 year old, working in a not-very-inspiring job, spending her spare time with the-love-of-her-life Dougie and generally getting by quite well, thank you very much. Dougie’s mother might not be quite as smitten with Lola as Lola is with her son, but you can’t have everything. What she hadn’t banked on, however, was how much his mother disliked her – generally far too posh to say such things out loud, it had escaped Lola’s notice until right now when Mrs Tennant comes right out and says it. And that’s not all she says – she has an offer for Lola: leave my son, let him go off to uni and don’t follow him, and this cheque for £10,000 is all yours. This was the first point in the book where I gained a real respect for Lola, because despite being a poor 17 year old in a dead-end job, and despite being reasonably sensible and able to see that for the most part first loves don’t last forever, initially she still doesn’t even consider taking the money.

Still, things invariably change, and in that pleasant coming-together way which only ever happens in fictitious worlds, a sudden need for a large sum of money arises, and Lola makes the difficult decision to do as her no-longer-future-mother-in-law asks. She leaves the country soon afterwards, and that chapter of her life ends.

Fast forward 10 years and Lola is back in Britain, managing a bookshop in London. While her unusual transaction of a decade ago is not something you forget easily, she is not dwelling on it. Until, that is, a twist of fate brings her and the Tennant family back together. Seeing Dougie again reignites her feelings for him, but, never having known the full story about why she left, he is understandably still bitter. She’s going to have her work cut out for her if she’s even going to attempt to win him back.

I really enjoyed this book. Even though the storyline was fantastic, novel, and interesting, it was the characters that really brought it to life, from Lola’s parents (all 3 of them…some people are just greedy), to her colleagues, to the Odd Couple messy Sally and potentially-gay Gabe. Lola is a wonderful heroine because she is feisty and fun, and not at all a wimp – her pursuit of Dougie is clearly because she wants , not needs, him to complete her life. The extent to which she follows him around is funny bordering on slightly scary, and the only thing I thought was missing was a little Facebook stalking.

There are literally dozens of threads to the story, and I couldn’t help thinking that one more and the whole thing could have become too tangled a web to read. They do all tie together reasonably neatly at the end, in part because while all roads may lead to Rome, all threads in this story lead back to Lola. Without her, the other characters would be strangers going about their own lives, but with her there they all become part of one big story.

Jill Mansell has written tons of books, so it’s about time we had a review of one of them on this site. She’s an author I’ve seen over and over again on Amazon and on the high street, but I’ve never read one of her titles before, and now I can’t quite remember why. I enjoyed this book immensely, and will be making a dent in her vast back catalogue just as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending this book to Bookbag.

For people who, like Lola, love a good story about books, Book Lover is also recommended reading.

Booklists.jpg An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell is in the Bookbag's Chick Lit Picks.

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Jill Mansell said:

Thanks so much for the wonderful review you've just given my latest book - I'm thrilled that your reader enjoyed it. As for her comment about including Facebook in it - it's a terrific idea, but while I was writing the novel in 2006, I'm afraid I'd never even heard of Facebook! (In my older books, it now seems very strange that there are no mobile phones either...) What a great website you have - I've just added it to my favourites list and shall be visiting you often from now on. Thanks again! Jill Mansell