Series or stand alone: stand alone
Genre: fiction, romance, mystery
Reason for reading: technically, this was a re-read. I was in the mood for a comfort read and this is one of my favourites. As for my mother, she read it after listening to me going on about it for ages.
Cover: I love this edition. The girl looks lost in thought and bears a remarkable resemblance to Audrey Hepburn.
Synopsis: Lily Quinn is an art student in her mid-twenties living in NYC, with a hypochondriac alcoholic mother and an agoraphobic grandmother with stories about the holocaust. Amy, Lily’s roommate, goes missing and the missing persons department comes a-calling, particularly NYPD Detective Spencer O’Malley, a man almost twenty years Lily’s senior. Here begins a mutual, relatively slow burning, attraction. But a happily ever after is not a guarantee, especially when Lily develops leukaemia, and wins the lottery, and Spencer himself is fighting his own demons while trying to find Amy.
First line: What happened to love? Lily whispered to herself.
Verdict: good (but my mother would class it as merely okay).
Thoughts: This really is one of my favourite comfort reads which demands curling up in a comfy chair with a mug of hot chocolate. I originally read it for a book club four years ago and I have read it every year since. It is sprawling and epic but by no means perfect. It is romantic and heartbreaking and just a bit too long. The book club I belonged to at the time were shocked that I even liked it, never mind actually gushing about how much I loved it, because this was really not my usual fare at the time. It also helped to broaden my horizons a wee bit when it comes to what I read. Even now I can’t exactly pinpoint the reasons why I enjoy it so much as for every good point, I can find a flaw, but I just get a general feeling of being content when I sit down to read it.
It has one hell of a convoluted plot that defies categorisation sometimes. Is it a romance? A family saga? A mystery? I am the first to admit it is way over the top. My mother disliked it despite being a fan of romance and family sagas. She found it too unbelievable and too melodramatic. And it is. But I thought that it worked really well, apart from the fact that I reckon 100 pages could be easily cut from it, particularly the beginning which starts really slowly. I think that the slow start was what put my mother off the story in the first place and she never really forgave it.
It does suffer from too many storylines and peripheral characters that have just a bit too much personality, if there is such a thing, which my mother thought took something away from our leads. Ultimately, I think it is better classed as a mixture of love story and character study between Lily and Spencer. This particular plotline eclipsed the others while I was re-reading it and their developing relationship was sweet yet full of seemingly overwhelming issues which stopped it becoming sickly.
Finally, I would like to say that, despite her aversion to the novel, my mother still found herself in tears at the end like I did the first time I read it. Personally, I love it and, as this was written for my journal, I rate it a nice, solid ‘good’.
Currently reading: Paralysed by Sherry Ashworth.