Friday 13 March 2015

Review ~ Goodness, Grace and Me by Julie Houston.

Title: Goodness, Grace and Me.
Author: Julie Houston.
Genre: Romantic Comedy.
Publication Date: June 30, 2013.
Source: Review copy.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

When Harriet’s husband, Nick, throws in his safe, but boring job in order to set up a new business during the current recession, Harriet is distraught. More so when she realises Amanda, her and best friend Grace's old enemy from school is back in their lives. Amanda, it turns out, is Nick’s new boss’s wife and, because of her legal and language skills, will be accompanying Nick on his business trips to Italy. How will Nick not succumb to the ruthless charms of the utterly gorgeous Amanda once he’s away from Yorkshire and in glamorous Milan?

Knowing Nick is being seduced is bad enough, but when Grace falls madly in love with Sebastian, Amanda’s precious, much younger son, it can only mean trouble ahead. Determined to fight for her man, Harriet’s seduction techniques go into overdrive. Unfortunately she is hampered in her attempts by two bolshy teenagers, an increasingly eccentric mother and a job teaching horrible children. Not to mention something very strange going on at the bottom of her garden!

Can Harriet save her marriage, and also her friendship with Grace? And what will happen if Nick’s new venture fails, especially now that the one thing Harriet has not even considered in all this mess appears to be staring her right in the face…?

Goodness, Grace and Me is an inviting, enjoyable debut novel, which draws upon everyday, easy-to-relate to life with a wit that makes it all a bit mad. And very entertaining. I’m always curious and maybe a little doubtful when a synopsis is already telling you a book will be hilarious, but I did find this one a lot funnier than I had possibly expected and it had me laughing out loud quite a few times. It took me a little bit of time to really connect with the story, but once I did this book became difficult to put down. Goodness, Grace and Me was a light-hearted yet at times quite sensitive novel, written well, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

Harriet was a lovely character and I really found myself rooting for her. She’s realistically written, with all the normal worries that a woman of her age might have in real life – money issues, stroppy teenagers, stresses over her parents and work…She does seem to have relentlessly bad luck but luckily she has best friend Grace to keep her sane, or maybe a little insane. I loved Harriet and Grace’s friendship. It was honest, funny, sweet, and honestly a little crazy, but great to read. They have their arguments but mostly they’re on the same page. When a blast from their past arrives in the shape of Amanda Goodners, somebody they went to school with, their friendship is affected in more ways than one. Little Miss Goodness’ return allows Harriet and Grace to recall some of their school memories and the highs and lows, but Amanda’s appearance and apparent tendency to spend all of her time with Harriet’s husband Nick causes some issues... As does Grace’s building feelings for Amanda’s son, Sebastian.

There were so many situations Harriet was put in that I just loved to read. Moments that I don’t really want to spoil the humour of but I’m sure there’s got to be quite a few things any reader would laugh at. The antics of Harriet’s teenage son and his friends are just one thing in particular that stands out, but Harriet’s own antics have their moments too. One part I did enjoy was Harriet and Grace’s school reunion, as horrible as a thought of a school reunion sounds to me. I liked seeing them re-connect with some of their old friends as they recalled some funny events and caught up on all the gossip. It was nice to see that their school life hadn’t just been about Amanda Goodners, as much as she does take over.

Aside from the easy humour that comes from Harriet’s narration of her everyday life, there is a more moving aspect to this book with the ill health of Harriet’s mum. This part was tenderly written and as the story progressed, it was quite sad and heart-warming at the same time. There’s more to Goodness, Grace and Me than just your average rom-com, I feel, and Harriet is one of my favourite protagonists, with a story difficult not to connect with. I wanted Harriet to have more faith and confidence in herself and was interested to see whether that would work out or not. This was a funny, chaotic road to discovery and I enjoyed every last bit of it.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK

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