Goodness, Grace and Me
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…?
Hat is thirty-eight, has been happily married to Nick for seventeen years, and has three children. Nick’s business was a casualty of the recession a couple of years ago, and so while he has taken a soul-destroying nine-to-five job, Hat has gone back to teaching to keep the family finances afloat. She rather belatedly finds out that Nick is intent on starting another business, this time with the backing of wealthy (but untrustworthy?) businessman David Henderson, who is married to the beautiful Amanda Goodners (the “Goodness” in the title), who as her school head girl over twenty years ago she at first idolised and then hated. Hat is worried that Nick will fall for Amanda’s ruthless charms.
Grace has been Hat’s best friend since they were eleven – they had gone through school together, then college, and now they teach at the same infant school. Grace’s marriage is a bit bumpy at the moment and Hat has her friend’s troubles to help sort out as well as all her own at home.
I think Hat is a great, quirky character. I love that she works hard at keeping the family together through their many crises and mini-crises. I love her sense of humour and that she wants to giggle at inappropriate moments, and that she and Grace snigger together like schoolgirls at things they should be taking seriously. The story is written in the first-person point of view of Hat, and this works really well to help the reader follow her often chaotic life.
Although this is an easy and breezy read, there are some weighty underlying issues: infidelity, inability to get pregnant, a parent with dementia, trust within a relationship, adoption, teenage tantrums and recovering from the fallout of a failed business (although there is never any real financial hardship) and the trials of starting up a new one. Although none of the issues are treated as though they are anything other than serious, the writing around them is light and full of humorous moments (but not the hilarious, laugh-out-loud ones promised by the blurb), so although the reader is given room to empathise with the issues they are not dragged down by them.
I don’t think the elderly relative’s dementia is treated quite as well as the other issues. The family doesn’t seem to have picked up on the clues of the disease that there must have been, and seem to be unaware of it until it is quite advanced. The subplot that ties into this one isn’t really given the space it deserves and, although it does tie up some ends nicely, I felt that it was an unnecessary twist to the story.
Overall, this is a pleasant, enjoyable read.
Editorial Input & Design
The story is well plotted and free flowing. There are a few typos, but nothing that will pull you out of the story. I would advise against the strapline: An hilarious, laugh out loud, Romantic Comedy! (I am always put off by the author telling me their book is hilarious; plus there are five errors in those seven words).
Cover: It’s a nice cover, suitable for the target market, but I don’t see that it sums up the story in any way.
Internal design: I read this on a Kindle, with no problems.
Book Clubs & Reviews
It’s quite a “light” read, but there are a number of issues that could spark discussion, as noted in the review.
What others are saying: Amazon UK readers give it 4.6 stars (121 reviewers); Amazon US readers give it 4.8 stars (14 reviewers); Goodreads readers give it 4.03 stars (29 ratings).