Saturday, 31 January 2015

It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

It's Not Me It's You (2014) (Avon)
Mhairi McFarlane
Grade: B-
Genre: chick lit
Source: NetGalley
General RBC 2015: A book with more than 500 pages 

When Delia Moss proposes to her boyfriend of ten years, the last thing she expects is to discover the existence of The Other Woman. When she’s asked to gently put a stop to a serial commenter from leaving mildly insulting and insinuating comments on the council’s website, she doesn’t expect to resign from her job at the Council over it. Given the slightly tumultuous path that her life has taken, Delia decides that a move to London to stay with her best friend Emma, is her last chance to start over. Accepting a job working for the charismatic Kurt in his start-up PR company, Delia believes she can really make a difference … until she meets investigate reporter Adam West who Kurt warns her to steer clear from, with the fate of her job hanging in the balance. This is a story of dodgy jobs, crazy bosses, bad-boy reporters, loyal old (and new) friends, rediscovering her passion for The Fox (a lot more innocent that it sounds) and one woman’s chance to find her place in life …

This is my third Mhairi McFarlane book and it has, embarrassingly, taken me this long to figure out how to pronounce her first name (Vah-ree). This was better than the disappointing Here’s Looking at You and probably just as good as her debut, You Had Me At Hello (not that I remember it all that well), and so It’s Not Me It’s You was a sound start to the year.

Delia has a steady, if staid, job in Newcastle City Council’s publicity department. When she’s asked to politely request an anonymous local citizen to stop trolling their website, she doesn’t expect a friendship to result. Before she realises it, she’s emailing back and forth with ‘Peshwari Naan’ as they bond over the Council’s inadequacies. When she moves to London, Delia’s new friend is only an email away and ready to listen to and, when circumstances call for it, take an active part in Delia’s new antics. PN also helps Delia launch her hobby into a reality: Delia is an avid artist but hasn’t picked up her tools in years. She wrote and illustrated a comic strip about the adventures of a fox, but her work has been shut up in the back of a closet for too long. When this period in her life prompts Delia to re-evaluate the things she enjoys and pick up her pen again, the reader, too, reaps the benefits. Or I would have, if I hadn’t been reading a review copy. The book is peppered with a few stills from the aforementioned comic strip, and I enjoyed this enough to be tempted to pick up a physical copy when I’m next in a bookshop and see what I was missing.

It’s not often that you’re made to intensely dislike a romantic interest from practically the first chapter, but I certainly felt that way about Paul. He owns a pub and while he’s spent ten years of his life with Delia, he was never one for romantic gestures and declarations of love. She’s the one who decorated their house, who cooks when they invite friends over for dinner parties, and ultimately, the one who proposed. There’s just something innately slimy about a guy who’s cheated and Paul is no exception. Delia’s move to London is his wake-up call and he’s more than prepared to beg for it – not pretty and verging on pathetic. On the other hand, I didn’t think that Adam West was any better. Portrayed as a bad-boy journalist who’s committed to digging out the hard truth, regardless of the effects, I thought the result was that Adam just came across as cold and also a bit asshole-y. So, not a great impression by either of our ‘heroes.’

This episode in Delia’s life forces her to rethink her career choices and what really makes her happy. Her life and job in Newcastle is content if fairly unexciting and so her move down to London is a big deal and it was great to visibly see the changes as she adapted to her new life. I wish I could have experienced The Fox in all its glory and that’s my main quibble with the book: that there wasn’t more of The Fox. Full of laughs and the occasional tug at the heart-strings as Delia tries to find her direction in life, Delia’s fresh start is a wonderful reminder that new leaves are what you make of them and aren’t limited to just the start of the year.

Image courtesy of Book Depository.

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