13 November 2012
Book Review: From Notting Hill to New York... Actually by Ali McNamara
From one famous landmark to the next, Scarlett and Oscar make many new friends during their adventure - including sailors in town for Fleet Week, a famous film star, and Jamie & Max, a TV reporter and cameraman. Scarlett finds herself strangely drawn to Jamie, they appear to have much in common: a love of films and Jamie's search for a parent he never knew. But Scarlett has to ask herself why she is reacting like this to another man when she's so in love with Sean . . ."
Sequels to books I have loved always worry me... I worry that they aren't going to live up to my high expectations, and that my enjoyment of the first book will then be tainted! I was really excited that Ali McNamara was writing a sequel to her 2010 fantastic debut novel From Notting Hill With Love... Actually, a fun read about a movie obsessive living her dream in Notting Hill - I'd really enjoyed that novel and hoped that catching up with Scarlett and her friends again would be a good idea! Luckily, McNamara chose to set the sequel in my favourite city in the world, New York, and having been there myself, I was looking forward to seeing how realistically she would write about it, and how it would work in terms of Scarlett, her movie obsession and her relationships in the book!
Scarlett thinks she has finally found her Mr Right in boyfriend Sean, and the pair are still living together in Notting Hill. However, things seem to have gone off the boil a bit more, especially with Sean's jet-set lifestyle and Scarlett feeling a bit lonely now her dad has moved to New York for their popcorn business. When Scarlett decides she needs a break, she flies to see her dad with best friend Oscar, to the fabulous city of New York. While there, they bump into British TV presenter Jamie and his cameraman Max, and Scarlett hits it off with both of them. However, she starts to worry when she feels more of a connection with Jamie than she probably should, especially when Sean is only across the water waiting at home for her...
For me, it was easy to slip back into the lives of Scarlett and Sean, and it didn't feel like it had been nearly 2 years since I had last read about them both! McNamara recaps enough of their past to gently remind you of things as you're reading, and as such, those who haven't read the first book will still be able to enjoy this one just as much, albeit without knowing all of the ins and outs of Scarlett's escapades in Notting Hill! Although the book starts in Notting Hill, it does soon move over to New York, and I really enjoyed reading this part, especially as I could relate to it myself having been there twice before! I found McNamara's descriptions to be perfect, from the landmarks she describes, to the walkabouts that Scarlett goes on by herself... its clear to imagine exactly whats going on because of McNamara's use of detail, and her passion for it in her writing too which I cannot fault.
Couple this great side of the book with a likeable cast of characters and you're already on to a winning formula! I love Scarlett as a character - she's funny, she's realistic and believable, and all the time you're rooting for her to get her happy ending. She and Oscar are just hilarious together, especially exploring all the infamous New York sights... Oscar is just brilliant and makes reading the book even more of a joy! The use of two other British men in the book gives it another edge, and some of the storylines that come out of that are a tad far-fetched, but they are very fun to read about... McNamara must have had fun imagining the conversations Scarlett had with the very famous person in this book! As well as the more light-hearted side of the novel, there is a more serious storyline involving a TV station manager and a charity close to his heart... McNamara deals with this issue with compassion, and it felt well situated in amongst the more light stories and links in nicely with the other story threads.
I have to say that my favourite part was the last 30-40 pages where things suddenly come to a head, and I found myself whizzing through at lightning pace to find out how it was going to end, I loved how McNamara engineered this book's ending, and gives the reader a little extra excitement before we say goodbye to Scarlett and co once more! It's written in the first person from Scarlett's perspective, and this allows you to really get into her head and feel her confusion, excitement, nerves and more as the book progresses, and it allows the descriptions of New York to be really detailed too. I loved every page of this book, it really drew me in and I found myself guessing along with the book, and how things were going to go as it wasn't too obvious at various points! McNamara's writing is easy to read, and she's written a fun and readable novel that movie fans are going to love again as Scarlett goes exploring the setting of some of most brilliant movies of all time! A must-read from me, I loved it!
You can buy From Notting Hill to New York... Actually as a paperback or an eBook now.