Sunday Book Club: Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell

I haven’t read any book from Jill Mansell in a long time; I think the last book from her that I read was when I was back in college so I kind of relate her books to a time when I was still really young. I was actually attracted to this book Millie’s Fling by its bright cover and comments by other authors that this was a fast and fun book; I didn’t really read the synopsis when I picked it up. I got this from the National Library so I didn’t have to pay a single cent but I see it selling on Amazon at US$8.73 for the Kindle version.

The actual physical book that I picked up from the Library was actually extremely new with no borrows yet so I thought it was a newly published book – but it was actually first published in 2001. Sometimes reading a book from some time back is actually quite good because the author isn’t yet starving for fresh new ideas.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Millie Brady is a down-to-earth girl whose life is just very normal. She lives with Hester, a girl who is in a long-distance relationship with a chef, Nat, but still has a burning for an old love, Lucas Kemp. However, Millie’s life is turned upside down when she saves Orla Hart, a bestselling romance author, from taking her own life because of her husband Gile’s cheating. A second encounter happened in the travel agency that Millie works at, which resulted in Millie quitting that very day due to an insanely jealous boss. They become fast friends and Orla decides to make Millie the heroine of her next novel, after a really bad review by Christie Carson convinces her to shake up her recent writing style.

Unfortunately Millie’s life, or the part that she does report back to Orla, is largely man-free and Orla decides to match Millie up with a string of men she picked to stir things up. There’s Richard the gardener, and Con, the closet gay. The only one who really interests Millie though is Hugh Emerson, and he’s the man that Millie can’t get because he just lost his wife in an accident a few months ago. They did have a one-night stand though, right after a party at Orla’s, but Hugh ran off in guilt because he felt that he was betraying his wife for moving on so soon. Oh, and Millie is now working for Lucas at his kissogram firm.

Hester is also dealing with her own love problems – tired of waiting for Nat, she has a one-night stand with Lucas who on the surface is a womanizer but apparently a really nice person at heart and he made sure that their one sex encounter was really bad on purpose to finally kill off her desire for him. However, Nat decides to move home and got a job at Lucas’ new restaurant where Lucas revealed that he had slept with Hester and underperformed on purpose so that she can finally stop fantasizing about him. Amazingly, Nat forgives Hester and they get back together.

In the end, not surprisingly, Millie finally gets together with the man she wants – Hugh, and reveals that she had an embarrassing tattoo from her teenage days of her then-boyfriend’s name encased in a heart, who was also named Hugh. Orla, now divorced from Giles after unceremoniously kicking him out of her house, has now gotten together with Christie Carson, who turned out to be a really handsome man with great literary skills.

Final Thoughts

I wouldn’t describe it as particularly funny, but it is rather interesting and engaging. I thought the pace was quite fast and not too dragged out, and in no part of the book was I irritated by any character enough to complain to people around me like I always do when I am reading chick lit. I also quite like the writing style – I thought the bantering between Millie and Hugh was not funny but at least it was rather refreshing.

I do like Millie in her silly and bumbling manner and I found her father, in his rare appearance in the book, rather endearing. Orla felt like the typical wife-who-was-cheated-on, and I felt as though there wasn’t quite enough character building for her – she deserved to have a bigger subplot. Usually I find portrayals of men who can’t move on rather annoying, but in this case I thought it was acceptable for Hugh because it wasn’t overdone.

I thought the subplot about Hester, Nat and Lucas was really unnecessarily; it seems to just work to extend the number of pages in the book. I also found the part about Lucas really unreal – no man would have sex badly to turn off a woman. There was way too much written around this stupid subplot and I wish the author would just skip this whole lame subplot (or at least ended it differently) and just focus on Millie and Orla, or give Orla a bigger subplot rather than just an afterthought.

I know it doesn’t sound like I liked the book from what I have described so far, but I actually did. I like that there was some up and downs through the book so it wasn’t monotone. It was interesting enough to keep me reading it and even forgoing my usual TV program. It’s chick-lit – my recent favourite genre – so it’s actually a nice, light and cheerful read with a very decent pace.

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