Author: Harriet Evans
Published: Downtown Press; Oct. 2006
Genre: Chick lit
Source: Personal copy
Synopsis: This debut novel from Evans (a former editorial director at Penguin UK) opens with a late-twentysomething female British narrator and a crazy family holiday dinner, but quickly distinguishes itself from the usual Bridget Jones-esque fare. At the Walters' cozy Christmas in their crumbling countryside manor, trouble starts when Uncle Mike shows up with a blonde, buxom American wife, and normally affable Tom gets stinking drunk and declares his homosexuality. But then the big news hits: Kepper House-the aforementioned cozy manor-will have to be sold to fund one family member's shady dealings. So protagonist Lizzy Walter-a plucky Londoner nursing a broken heart and contemplating a move to L.A. as a way to leave behind painful memories-sets off on a mission to save the family home. Lizzy juggles her house-saving schemes with her romantic entanglements-she's dating the younger brother of the boy who broke her heart-but it's the familial characters like eccentric Aunt Chin and Chin's younger Australian fiancé, and a mother and father ever-eager to hit the sauce that give the book life and depth. Charts (one rates the "level of weird behavior" of family members, another lists fundraising possibilities) and hyperactive capitalization (Lizzy washes "the Things that Are Too Big to Go in the Dishwasher") skew cutesy, but otherwise the story is set in solid writing that manages to be fun without dipping into dumbed-down frivolity.
My Take: I've been reading a lot of books that I was scheduled to read and I can't say that February was my most successful month on record so I felt the need to take advantage of a lull in my reading schedule and get back on track with reading something 'just for me'. I wanted it to be fun so I turned to an author that I really enjoy: Harriet Evans. Having already read two of her books: A Hopeless Romantic and The Love of Her Life (click titles for my reviews) I knew that she was fast becoming one of my go-to Brit chick-lit authors and always good to read when I need to relax. This certainly did the trick.
Going Home by Harriet Evans is her debut novel and having read some of her later titles first I can see just how far she has come in her writing style. First we have to have a quirky leading lady: Lizzy. Then we have to have a romantic issue: the supposed love of her life, David, moved to New York and slept with a good friend. Now we need to have another problem for her to focus her troubles on so that she can make everything into a mess: Lizzy's beloved childhood home, Keeper House, is being put up for sale for not very good reasons. Stir it up and what do you have? A delightful escape from my hectic life and I can explore someone else's problems for awhile.
Lizzy is sweet and charming and fun to read about. Her family and friends are entertaining and I want to root for her to overcome her problems. It was just the escape I needed.
This book isn't the big 'oh my gawd, you have to read this, laugh out loud funny' chick-lit of the year but some of Evan's later books are so I am happy to see where she came from and I will be happy to continue to read her for years to come!
Cover Lust: Since this book is six years old I'm not going to be too harsh on it. I'm just glad her cover art is getting more love now!