13 September 2011

Book Review: Unlike A Virgin by Lucy Anne Holmes

Is Gracie in love for the very first time? You know that bit in The X Factor, when the singer tells everyone about the rocky road they travelled to pursue their dream? Well, that's Gracie Flowers' story. Gracie is very focused for a woman of almost twenty-six. Her favourite book is 'The 5-Year Plan: Making the Most of Your Life'. And her five-year plan is going very well. That is, until she is usurped from her big promotion by a handsome, posh idiot; she is dumped by her boyfriend; and discovers her loopy mother is facing bankruptcy. Hormones awry and ice cream over-ordered, a dream Gracie thought she'd buried ten years ago starts to resurface. A dream that reminds her of the girl she used to be and everything she wanted to become.
I've read both of Lucy-Anne Holmes' previous novels featuring the character of Sarah Sargeant and found them to be laugh-out-loud books that also had a fab story too. For her latest book, Unlike A Virgin, Holmes has moved over to Sphere publishers, and they've given her a brand new cover look for this book, which I think is fantastic. It's a great cover, lots of colour and I think it'll definitely stand out against a lot of the books coming out at the moment. The cover makes the book seem like a fun read, but I have to tell you that while there are a few really funny bits, the feel of the book is a lot darker and more emotional than I imagined, but in my opinion, the book is all the better for it!

The characters in this book are really what it's all about, and they are what you really keeps you reading. Gracie Flowers is the main character, and the narrator of the book. She's a character who has many levels - she's confident at work when she's being an estate agent, yet when she's at home and pondering things, she's very unsure and unconfident and you really feel her emotions along with her as things unravel for her in the book. She's very warm as a person and I thought she was just great, one of my favourite leading ladies in a long time. She goes through lots of things in the book, but my favourite thing with Gracie was her relationship with her dead father, she just sits at his grave and talks to him and I thought this part of the book was so beautifully done, and was very touching to read. Relationship-wise for Gracie, it isn't at all obvious who she will end up with and I loved that Holmes managed to keep us guessing until the end. Gracie's other relationships in the book were well written too, especially with her mother which felt awkward but things much clearer as the book progresses, and I like how this relationship grew.

There is a quite a bit going on in the book, and it's hard to pick out one story as being more important than another because for me, they were all a vital part of the book, and the formation of Gracie. There's Gracie's job as an estate agent and the battle she's having with her new boss after being looked over for the promotion she's wanted for so long, but I loved seeing a character who really enjoyed going to work, and this comes out in her narrative of her job. There's also her relationships (or lack of) with men, her mother, her (dead) father and her fab best friend Wendy too, and also there's Gracie's singing. We don't initially know why Gracie loves music but refuses to sing herself but as this story unfolds, it's incredibly touching and well handled by Holmes, and something you certainly don't expect from a book I expected to be a laugh a minute... it's emotional, and it makes for wonderful reading.

This is Holmes'  best novel by far, and I'm definitely to looking forward to what is to come in the next few years with Sphere. This book is a triumph, it's an emotional book about Gracie Flowers finding herself and growing as a person, and the journey it takes along the way is heart-warming and wonderful too. I enjoyed every page of this book, and I know it'll be a keeper on my bookshelves as one to pick up when I'm struggling to find anything I want to read. While the comedy of her previous books isn't as obvious as before, or indeed as present, everything else in this book more than makes up for it. If you haven't read Holmes' work before, then this is going to be a great place to start and if you aren't new to her works, be prepared to be blown away by the turn Holmes has taken with this book. Don't let the cover put you off if you aren't into bright, colourful looking chick-lit books, the story within is more than worth a punt. Fantastic!

Rating: 5/5


  1. I love the cover & can't wait to read the book. Glad you enjoyed it Chole & thanks for a great review.

  2. I have really been looking forward to this book! I will be even more anxious after reading your 5 star review!:)

  3. Brilliant review, cant wate to read this now!

  4. This one very much appeals, both cover and plot-wise, but why on was I under the impression that this one's about unexpected pregnancy? Is it?