6 February 2008

Book Review: Annie May's Black Book by Debby Holt

"Entries from Annie May's Black Book:
October 15th, 1974: Miss Baker for telling me how to blow my nose and not believing when I still couldn't do it.
February 6th, 1977: David Llewellyn for saying my landscape painting looked like a pig's trough and then making honking noises every time he saw me.
April 12th, 1987: Peter Elton for 'borrowing' my cigarettes and never buying any of his own.
In her Black Book, Annie May has recorded the name and offence of everyone who has ever done her wrong. The greatest transgressor of them all was Ben Seymour: the man who jilted her at the altar seventeen years ago.
Now he's moving into a house round the corner . . ."

It's not an unusual storyline for chick-lit books these days, women being dumped and it forever ruining their future relationships. But I found this book was a lot better than other similar stories! It made me laugh out loud in places, and you could really relate to Annie and sympathise with her plight. She was a funny character and I really liked her. She was different to her family, who we saw plenty of. I enjoyed how much she obviously enjoyed Ben and resented him for weedling his way back into her life years later.

The other characters in the book were fantastically written, although I must admit to getting a bit confused in parts! The main reason was that Annie had a fairly large group of friends living in Bath, and I had trouble keeping up with the names of them all. I found myself flicking back through the book to remind me who was who! But don't worry, it wasn't an awfully bad error and didn't really spoil my enjoyment of the book too much...don't let it put you off at all!

My favourite character in the book had to be Ben, the man who dumped Annie. We don't learn until near the end of the book why he dumped Annie, and I don't know how she resists the temptation to hear why he jilted her! He is a nice character, despite what he did to Annie, and I was willing him to give her another chance! He wasn't too creepy, and he didn't try to force himself back with Annie, he was just a genuinely nice person!

We also got to meet Annie's family quite a bit as well. Annie has 2 sisters; Josephine who is married to Mark and has 2 children as well as the step-daughter from hell. Lily is married to William and they have two boys. You can feel the close relationship between all 3 sisters and the relationships are written very naturally, so it is quite belivable all the way through. I wish I could keep my house as beautifully as the way the author described Lily's house though!

What I really liked about this book was that although it is marketed as Chick-Lit, which is usually a light hearted romantic read, this one had a bit of a serious message which came to light right at the end of the book. As much as I would like to keep a black book of all the people who have crossed me, I think I'd get too depressed at writing all my bad thoughts all the time! Despite this, the book is funny, with its funny extracts from Annie's Black Book at the start of each chapter giving you a small laugh. The people are real and believable, and the story moves at an easy to read pace, without slowing or being boring at all.

I definitely would recommend this book to anyone who likes a funny, yet touching read, especially in the "chick-lit" genre of books. As I said, I haven't read this author before but I will definitely seek out some more of her work now! Debby Holt has now written 3 books, including this one, and was a teacher before turning to writing.

Rating: 4/5

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