Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello REVIEW

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Imogen and her friends have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.
So when one of the group wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona's hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in surroundings of unapologetic luxury.
But as they mingle with movie stars, mafia bosses and millionaires, it becomes clear - with riotous consequences - that even in the most glamorous of locations, things can go wrong. Very wrong . . . 


SPOILERS AHEAD

Firstly, the plot; I loved it, I'm a sucker for best friend stories (check out Bridesmaids by Jane Costello too) I laughed at loud at so many moments, mostly because it's somehow delightfully unbelievable just how much trouble one woman can get into in a singular week. As the blurb tells us, Imogen goes on what should be a dream holiday with her two best friends Nic and Meredith. Meredith is heavily pregnant but why should something as silly as a bump get in the way I guess? Imogen initially meets Harry, a cute, sweet man, in the business class suite before boarding their flight to Spain. Well, I say meet, she literally bumps into him with a plate full of food and a glass of Bucks Fizz.

Imogen is bombarded with multiple calls from her overly worrisome mother and her dumbass boss (David) who has somehow managed to find himself in a sex scandal whilst being CEO of a company. Very smart.

Through this all, Imogen is trying to mend her own broken heart that
 has occurred as a result of a terrible break up. Imogen's necklace is stolen and it's to a necklace she keeps from sentiment for her past relationship. This is a sweet mini plot point. 

Okay, so Imogen's boss "got to third base" with a fellow passenger on a plane and despite Imogen being on her first holiday in over 5 years, it's suddenly up to her to fix up his mess, and on top of that their normal PR company has gone under so not only does she have a complete PR nightmare, but she has to find a new PR company to help fix this (of course David doesn't help with this initially) and it's chaos. The new company recommended to her gives her a 22 year who was "born to do this. It's my vocation" who's about as helpful as a bucket in a flood. A recurring theme in this book is that basically everyone BUT Imogen ends up going on holiday which is hilarious in a mean way. So long story short, our hopeless 22 year old also fucks off on holiday.

Thankfully, David steps up (first out of maybe 2/3 times in the entire book) and remembers that someone he golfs with is a PR executive. This guy is actually legit and poor Imogen has to do a radio interview with minimum training that turns out to be live when she was told it was going to be prerecorded, putting it nicely, she puts her foot in it. If I was mean, I would say she was talking shit out of her mouth, but I'm nice so I won't.
At this point David has fucked off to Scotland to avoid the press, kindly leaving his wife and children to deal with it which should really tell you everything about David by now. Scotland has minimal reception and after being encouraged to put down her phone for a night, we get a series of voicemails hearing David having to stay outside and finally being soaked in the rain and it's brilliantly funny. 5 points to Jane Costello.

As mentioned before, Imogen's life is just one mishap/disaster after another, so it should come as no surprise that her early meetings with Harry are terrible, including an incident in which she decides that he's stalking her for a story and let's him know that it's not cool. It's always fun to read and Costello manages to stop it from going into complete cringeworthy states. (you know some books have made you put them down from pure embarrassment.) Finally, Harry and Imogen get to a good place - a very good place *wink wink nudge nudge*- and they have to work out their feelings, Imogen as having slept with the first person since her ex boyfriend, and Harry from being unsure whether he could ever find real love but it all comes together nicely
However there's still the issue of him having made a promise ten years ago, that he's determined to keep.

Then Harry decides to write a letter. This is the only point in the book in which I rolled my eyes, but it was with affection, I promise. Harry decided to go all Mr. Darcy on Imogen with phrases such as
honour bound
and
 temporary madness
which made me laugh, because as I said, I felt Mr Darcy vibes and every time I get those, I just see Colin Firth looking very nice with dodgy sideburns. Adaptations aside, I think the romance was done beautifully and carefully and like with all of Costello's books, never felt too rushed.

Now, for the other characters:

  • Imogen's mother- never have I thought my mum was not a worry guts until I read this book, my mum is actually alright compared to this woman. I thought it was mildly funny what she considered emergencies, but as always, when you cry wolf too many times, no one is going to answer when you actually see a wolf. So when an actual emergency occurs, Imogen doesn't respond immediately, thankfully everyone is okay, although Imogen originally thinks Florence has been hurt and becomes a complete mama bear.
  • Florence - Imogen's four year old daughter. Cute as a button, appears to be unable to say I love you, but I think that was partially because she was unsure of whether her mum would be dropping her off for her first day of school, or maybe kids are just that mean, I wouldn't know, maybe I'll update this in about ten years. I like how she decides she'd like to be a princess doctor, because it's something that she likes with something she loves.
  • Meredith - well, what the blurb doesn't tell you is that she's stupidly pregnant, 34 weeks to be exact. Meredith is actually terrified of becoming a mother and is not sure if she will love her baby when it comes out, additionally she's in a weird relationship with Nathan, the baby's father, in which it's almost an open relationship.
  • Nic - Nic is in a relationship with Jess and whilst her parents love her, they're not as willing to accept her lesbianism as they should be. My favourite thing about Nic is that her sexual orientation was revealed discreetly and she was treated like a normal character. A lot of the time, gay characters are revealed and it's like DID I MENTION THEY'RE GAY,  I HAVE A GAY CHARACTER IN MY BOOK, I'M SO INCLUSIVE, TO PROVE TO YOU THEY ARE GAY, THEY WILL HAVE SEX WITH ANYTHING WITH A PULSE OF THEIR PREFERRED GENDER BECAUSE THEY ARE GAY GAY GAY. Nic was treated like a normal person, in a long term relationship (because I've heard gay people are actually capable of that) however, there is a slight strain on their relationship due to the fact that despite being with Jess for nearly a decade Jess has yet to meet Nic's parents. In fact in one point during the book, they meet their old geography teacher - nude of course otherwise how could they be mortified - and he states that her mum has told him all about her new boyfriend. I believe this becomes the final straw for Nic and she seems to put her foot down with her parents it was so sweet and I'd read a whole boring domestic book about those two.
Recommend to: friends, mothers, reluctant readers
Rating: 5 stars *****

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