11 November 2011
Book Review: To The Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
The theme of death of a loved one and moving on seems to be quite a big theme in chick lit these days. I recently reviewed Lucy Dillon's Walking Back to Happiness which was a book on exactly that theme, and then just a few weeks later, I start to read this latest offering from Jill Mansell covering the same subject again. I was curious to see how Mansell would approach the story, as I adore her books, I always manage to lose myself within them and with the characters, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing how To The Moon and Back would deal with quite an emotional and difficult subject.
The book begins introducing us to both Jamie and Ellie before his tragic accident, allowing us a glimpse into their relationship, and to get an idea of just how close and in love they are before tragedy strikes. Instead of focussing on Ellie's sorrow and grief immediately after her husband's death, Mansell instead choose to merely mention Jamie's death, and then move forward a few years in Ellie's life. I actually loved that she did this, and enjoyed that I didn't have to wallow in sadness for too long. When we meet Ellie again, she is obviously still grieving for her husband but seemingly getting on with her life once more. Ellie is a character I fell in love with straight away, and you can't but empathise with her - losing Jamie leaves her somewhat lost, and her new home in Primrose Hill, along with her new job as a PA is a new beginning, and a well deserved one.
Our other main character is Zack McLaren, who also happens to be Ellie's new boss. The only problem is that he is harbouring a huge crush for his new employee but she seems to the be the only woman in London who hasn't got a crush on him. He's gutted, but doesn't want to make a move and make a fool of himself. I didn't expect to like Zack, thinking he'd be too cocky and self assured, but I really did - he's a very sweet male character, and immediately you can see the attraction between he and Ellie, despite them both denying it. Roo is my other favourite character in the book, she adds some fantastic humour and craziness into the book. After her unfortunate encounters with unsavoury men, Roo decides to make some dramatic changes in her life, which does lead to some funny scenes and allows Ellie to lighten up a bit as well!
This book was an absolute joy to read. Right from the beginning, I loved the story between Ellie and Jamie, and the way he is present throughout the book, especially to Ellie is very touching and delicately done by Mansell. I like that Ellie is moving on with her life, but that her husband is always in her mind - it's nice to see a widowed character actually moving on, and it's important to see grief being dealt with like this. The setting of Primrose Hill was fantastic, and I could vividly imagine in my mind the place that Ellie and Zack worked, Ellie's home and all the surrounding places we visit with them. Mansell also manages to incorporate the serious illness Alzheimer's into the book, and she does this delicately and very sensitively, and I felt it was so well done, and although it was hard to imagine, it is certainly an eye-opener to this awful disease.
I loved this book, every page was a joy, and I really did look forward to picking it up every evening to find out what else was going to happen with Ellie, Zack and the rest of these characters. Because of Ellie's unfortunate past, you can't help but like her and empathise, and the same goes for Zack, Roo and the others too. Although I had guessed the ending almost from the beginning, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book at all and I immensely enjoyed the journey the book to get there - it moved at a great pace, not taking too long but moving along well and it certainly kept my interest. Finally, I have to mention the cover of this book - it is absolutely gorgeous and suits the story perfectly - after all, don't we all hope to find a love that will take us 'to the moon and back'? Simply wonderful.
You can buy To The Moon and Back in paperback and on eBook/Kindle.