Monday 18 August 2014

Review ~ The List by Joanna Bolouri.

Title: The List.
Author: Joanna Bolouri.
Publisher: Quercus.
Genre: Chick Lit.
Release Date: December 5, 2013.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn't feel fabulous. It's been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe's got her work cut out for her.

I was in a massive reading slump before I started reading The List. Literally every single book I picked up felt like the worst book in the world but then this book landed in my hands and I straight away fell in love with it. Joanna Bolouri has written one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and I’m back to thinking every other book is no good because I just didn’t want this one to end. I didn’t want to have to head back into another book and meet different characters because I wanted to stick with the frankly fantastic set of characters here.

Phoebe is a vulnerable character – messed about by her cheating boyfriend and showing no signs of her spirits being lifted. Not planning on making any more New Year resolutions she won’t keep, and with the help of best friend Lucy, she comes up with The List, ten challenges of things she’s always wanted to do in bed. Phoebe is determined to keep to this year’s resolution and to get herself over Alex for good and The List, told in diary format, is wonderfully entertaining and ridiculously funny. This book is set out in months and dates as we go through a year of Phoebe’s life. But really, it didn’t feel like picking up a stranger’s diary. It was more like having conversation after conversation with her because she’s frank and open and in a weird kind of way, I felt like she was more of a friend than a character in a book.

Maybe it was because she compared her sex life to watching the second Matrix film, or because of her desperately bad attempts at talking dirty, but I loved Phoebe. She was instantly likeable and a brilliant character. Though she had been hurt, she still had a fun personality and I loved that she didn’t take herself too seriously – she could see the humour in most situations (and some of the situations she did get herself in really could only be laughed off). I would suggest possibly avoiding reading The List on public transport, unless, like me, you want to narrowly avoid explaining to a stranger on the coach that you’re laughing way too much at Phoebe’s fear of bed-wetting during her ejaculation challenge… Yep, I’m not quite as blunt as Phoebe was. Or Lucy or Hazel or Oliver or most of the characters in this book. The List was just written in such a refreshing manner. It’s not about making sex and relationships and life seem perfect. It’s real – women do think and talk about sex and everything else covered in this book, even if the average chick-lit book is afraid to go into that. Joanna has that honest style of writing which I loved.

This book is obviously about the challenges Phoebe has set herself and how she explores them with Oliver, her gorgeous best friend. I don’t think there’d be too many people complaining about having to complete Phoebe’s list with Oliver. Definitely not. But The List is not just about dirty, raunchy sexual scenes or the hilarious challenges or the witty, sweary tone Phoebe narrates in. Given the description of this book, it sounds stupid to say that it has sweet undertones but I really did think that. And the characters – they were all brilliantly developed and a joy to read. I adored Phoebe’s friendship with Lucy and Hazel. Lucy was a complete laugh and not afraid to say anything, or rather shout it at possibly inappropriate times. But she was the best kind of friend you’d want. Joanna’s character development was simply spot on – for the loveable characters, the ones we’re meant to hate or just the plain creepy ones. Actually, Joanna gets everything spot on. Writing this review has made me want to read The List all over again and I think if I did, I could come up with another load of positive things to say about this great novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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