6 May 2013

Book Review: The Wish List by Jane Costello

"There are six months left of Emma Reiss's twenties...and she has some unfinished business. Emma and her friends are about to turn thirty, and for Emma it's a defining moment. Defined, that is, by her having achieved none of the things she'd imagined she would. Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in simply never materialised. Moreover, she's never jumped out of a plane, hasn't met the man she's going to marry, has never slept under the stars, or snogged anyone famous - just some of the aspirations on a list she and her friends compiled fifteen years ago. As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to tick off than she'd thought…"

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Wish List as a paperback or an eBook now.

For some reason, I haven't read the past few releases from Jane Costello, but I don't know why because I always really enjoy her writing and her humourous stories. So when a copy of her new book The Wish List landed on my doormat a few weeks ago, I decided I was definitely going to read it. It sounded like it was going to be a really funny read, and the idea of someone fulfilling a wish list before her big 30th birthday is actually quite a believable story, and perhaps something I'll have to think about when my big 30th birthday comes looming itself! The cover is quite whimsical and pretty, although I'm not sure I'm entirely sold on this trend for plain cream covers... I like a bit of colour on a cover myself!

Emma is soon to turn 30, and all she can think is about is what she hasn't accomplished in her life rather than what she has done. She's now single, her career isn't really going places and her living accommodation doesn't leave much to be desired. When she unearths a list she and a group of friends wrote when they were young teenagers about what they dreamed they'd do before they were 30, Emma is horrified to see that really she hasn't done any of the things on her list, and feels a bit disappointed herself. Emma decides she has to change this, and so sets about trying to accomplish most of the goals on her list. However, some of them aren't as easy as she thinks they might be, and Emma is left wondering if she'll fulfill her wish list after all...

As usual with Jane Costello's books, I was pleased to see that the humour was present right from the beginning, and after just a few pages, I was hooked and knew that I was really going to enjoy this right up until the last page. The main character of Emma is brilliant - she's a pretty normal girl who has got stuck in a rut, and her determination to change that is brilliant to read, simply because she ends up in so many funny situations! Her list isn't too over-the-top, including things like a one night stand, polo riding and kissing a celebrity, but the way she tries to do these things and how she goes about them is so funny, I found myself laughing out loud frequently!

Although there are a lot of laughs in the book, Costello manages to weave in some more serious storylines too, but these just compliment the funnier ones even more. It shows Costello's talent in writing that she can mesh these threads together, and make you want to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next. I actually found the book very emotional in parts, especially relating to her neighbour Matt and what he is going through in his personal life, and I am sure that this will touch a lot of people because it is something that happens more and more regularly these days. Emma's ex-boyfriend Rob is a character you will love to hate, he is just vile and you really have to wonder what on earth she saw in him in the first place - Costello can certainly write a good villain! Emma's job as a children's TV writer is brilliant too, it certainly isn't a job I've ever before in chick lit and it did give me a bit of a laugh when I was reading about it!

Costello also writes in a relationship with Emma's female friends, including single mum Cally, domestic abuse support worker Asha, and Emma's own sister Marianne. There were some interesting storylines with these characters too, and they certainly held a more serious side to the book, and made me think a lot about differing life situations. I really warmed to single mum Cally, who loves her young son to bits, but you can tell sometimes she is just itching to go out and let her hair down, but feels guilty for wanting to do so... what mum doesn't?! Asha's story was actually quite sad I felt, and although I found myself not sympathizing with her at all, it shows how people in these situations genuinely can't see the wood for the trees, and believe that things will have a happy ending. Emma's relationship with each of the women was important to her, and I really did enjoy the sub-plots with these characters, it adds to the depth of the book and gives you so much more to enjoy from the story.

The Wish List was a joy to read from start to finish, and has certainly put Costello back to the top of my must-read list again! The humour is brilliant, funny without being too rude and crude, although there are a few cringe-worthy moments in there too, you can't help but feel sorry for poor old Emma, she tries so hard! I think I liked Emma so much because she was a believable girl, occasionally making a mistake where she knows she should have acted differently, but don't we all do silly things now and again, especially on things like Facebook and Twitter where we probably should just shut up?! There's a great cast of characters, lots of funny situations mixed in with the more serious ones too, and this is what makes The Wish List such a great read. I enjoyed every single page, and was sad when I came to the end because I had loved reading it, and I can't wait for Jane Costello's next book!


  1. Brilliant review, Chloe! xo

  2. Aw I love the cover! It's just eyecatching enough yet clean and elegant. :)

    I thought the group of friends was the highlight of this novel because they were so well written! Secondary characters rarely have such deep story lines, I was very impressed.