Today’s book review of a contemporary women’s novel is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey. If you’d like your book reviewed or to send me a book review of another author’s book, see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
From Notting Hill to New York . . . Actually by Ali McNamara
Synopsis: Scarlett O’Brien, utterly addicted to romantic films, has found her leading man. She’s convinced Sean is Mr Right, but the day-to-day reality of a relationship isn’t quite like the movies. With Sean constantly away on business, Scarlett and her new best friend Oscar decide to head to New York for the holiday of a lifetime.
From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure – including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie’s search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she’s so in love with Sean . . .
Review (of the audiobook)
The novel picks up a year after where ‘From Notting Hill with Love… Actually’ left off and gives us occasional reminders, just enough to work as a standalone.
There are ups and downs, and Scarlett’s analysis of Twitter is spot on (although Hugh Jackman has never replied to any of my tweets) and I loved her comparison of Top Gear with Last of the Summer Wine as ‘with engines and a bit more hair’ and ‘It’s not long before it’s my chassis that’s demanding his attention’.
Partway through, as the title implies, Scarlett ends up in New York and as expected, she (accompanied by the wonderful Oscar initially) and takes the reader on a variety of adventures.
Being picky (and picky is the most I can be with Ali’s writing), there were some clichés (including ‘gripping my arm like a vice’, ‘going great guns’, ‘swivels on his / her heels’) but fewer surplus adverbs than the previous novel. Other surpluses included ‘”Again?” I ask in astonishment’ (although that’s redeemed by the super ‘Sean takes so many trips abroad that he might as well be a bird’), ‘asked in surprise’, and ‘mouth open in surprise’ where we know the context so don’t need the explanatory addendums.
I did wonder how the taxi driver would know how the accident happened but the subsequent breakfast TV scene is hilarious (although I queried Scarlet’s naivety when she wonders – apparently seriously – what shade of green the ‘green room’ will be) and the antiques roadshow is equally well plotted.
Another possible (continuity) error is when Jamie says he knows where Scarlett is staying because he’d dropped her off the night before but he’d walked her back to her hotel (while Oscar drools over sailors) earlier in the novel.
You can’t help but like Scarlett, especially when she’s naïve, and I was initially annoyed how easy she found the treasure hunt clues… until she didn’t. 🙂
Oscar fights my affections as top character and I especially loved him greeting his sister with “In all things Dior, what are you doing here?”
I thought the previous book (From Notting Hill with Love… Actually, which I reviewed yesterday) couldn’t be bettered. I was wrong.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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If you would like to send me a book review of another author’s books or like your book reviewed (short stories, contemporary crime / women’s novels or writing guides), see book-reviews for the guidelines. Other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog. And I post writing exercises every weekday on four online writing groups.