You know a book’s going to have you howling with laughter when, before you even reach the first page, you read this:
All the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Except for Chris, who is as big a knob in real life as he is in this book.
Nicola Brown, 29, works at The Sullivan Agency, Bristol’s largest actors’ agency. Chris is one of their agency’s most successful actors but I’m telling you no more about him – you’ll have to read the book to find out why he’s such a knob.
Nicola is a little bit particular about how things should be:
It always made me feel itchy when things were out of place. I couldn’t seem to settle unless everything around me was completely ordered. For instance: I’d just aimed a screwed-up piece of paper at the bin and missed. It had sailed beautifully over the room, hit the rim and fallen to the floor, where it now lay. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I should leave it there – others would leave it – it really was no big deal…
Eleven o’clock is time for a chilled glass of mineral water, five to one is avocado salad with pine nuts, and one fifteen is a mini roll. Her workmate Caroline teases Nicola about her habits; it’s amazing the pair of them get on considering they’re almost completely opposite view on life.
Caroline has a husband and two children, Ben and Alice. The children and their toys sometimes end up at the agency (oooh look at that mess on the office floor, that must wind Nicola up) when there’s a child-minder crisis and Caroline seems to spend all her time looking out for everyone else. She’s particularly worried about Nicola’s love life, or lack there of, and following Nicola’s brother Mark telling her ‘You’ve got issues, sis’, when Caroline makes a proposal, Nicola’s pretty susceptible:
‘By that day,’ she pointed at the circled fourteen, ‘you will have been asked out on a Valentine’s date by someone wonderful.’
‘Caroli – ‘
‘ – Shush! By Valentine’s Day, you are going to make certain that you have tried everything in your power to secure yourself this fabulous date and then, and only then, will I, Caroline Haskey, agree to never again hassle you about your love life. Or lack thereof. Ever, ever, again.’
I raised an eyebrow. She wasn’t finished.
‘In short,’ she announced grandly, her eyes gleaming. ‘I dare you to get a love life.’
What follows is a string of hilarious dates (for us, not Nicola). I particularly enjoyed those organised by her brother Mark – wild dark brown hair, wears a battered leather jacket, drives a moped, works at the planetarium and is obsessed with bats. The dates take place between crises at work – Chris and last minute casting let downs – and family obligations – Nicola’s vile mother is particularly great.
How to Get a (Love) Life should be sold with a change of underwear. But while you will laugh your head off, there is a serious story underneath about not letting a broken heart rule your life. I also enjoyed Blake’s little subversions of the genre, especially the airport scene at the end (I haven’t spoilt it as it’s part of the prologue too). I’m already looking forward to reading whatever Rosie Blake writes next.
For the rest of today, How to Get a (Love) Life is 99p on the site that shall not be named (click on the picture of the cover to get there).
Thanks to Novelicious for the review copy.