I'd like nothing more than to be curled up on the sofa watching (TV) with a glass of chilled white wine in one hand, a tube of salt and vinegar Pringles in the other. But instead, I'm on a blind date with Chewbacca."
So begins Jane Moore's London-based, delightful story that chronicles a year in the life of Jessica Monroe as she attempts to play the hand that life has dealt her as a single, thirty-something in search of Mr. Right. She's a sweet-tempered people pleaser who sometimes drinks too much to avoid confronting those who routinely take advantage of her --- from the duplicitous sods she meets on the Internet to her fashionista Mum, from her antagonistic boss to her malicious "friend" Kara, all of whom abuse her basically tender nature in one way or another.
Kara, for example, secretly signs up Jess for an Internet introduction service. And, being the compliant friend that she is, Jess agrees to select three men out of the 3,456 matches that responded to her posting. All she has to do is fill out a form and "I can tap in my preferred requirements, such as hair color, height, and religion, and up comes a list of all the men who fit my specifications. How very Third Reich." This kind of subtle humor is effortlessly sprinkled throughout, keeping the reader both engaged and amused.
Lest you think that this book is simply a bowl of Cool Whip, there are several underlying themes that add a serious note. Most notable involves Jess's sister, Olivia --- not only her sibling but also her role model and best friend --- who is diagnosed with breast cancer. All the apprehensions that accompany this heinous disease serve to help Jess look beyond herself at some of life's deeper issues. Olivia's description of how she feels about her cancer is knowingly accurate: "It feels like there's a time bomb inside you, ticking away, possibly getting bigger, possibly spreading undetected to somewhere else..."
Moore deftly handles both the humor and pathos without ever becoming heavy-handed with either. The reader is kept guessing about which of the suitors will finally win our heroine, but avid romance fans will be rooting for the right one. From the obligatory gay couple to the loving "parentals," each of the supporting characters adds wit and dimension to the whole. This third novel is definitely a charm for Jane Moore.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on January 7, 2011