13 October 2015

Book Review: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

"The gift of a lifetime?

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more...

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift - one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her - and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?"

Rating: 4/5

Available to buy now.

A new Miranda Dickinson novel is something I always really look forward to, and that was certainly the case for her brand new book A Parcel for Anna Browne. There was a lot of buzz about this book on Twitter, and I was definitely keen to find out more and read it for myself! The premise of the book was an intriguing one - a receptionist at a newspaper Anna Browne starts to receive mysterious parcels from a stranger. They are lovely gifts - everything from scarves to brooches, but Anna has no clue who sent them to her or why. Her colleagues are just as intrigued, especially being that they are journalists! Anna decides she has to find out who is sending her the parcels and why... with a little help from her friends.

As you can see, the plot sounds fantastic, and it certainly left me wondering how I would feel if I started to receive mysterious parcels in the post! I think, truth be told, that I would feel a little bit freaked out about it, and a little bit suspicious of why I was receiving such nice things, but Anna seemed surprisingly complacent about her gifts, despite the initial suspicions of her friends at the newspaper. Anna was a bit of an intriguing character from the beginning really, and I have to confess that I did struggle to warm to her and make a connection with her at all. I felt she was always holding something back, and I kept waiting for her to reveal her true self, but that never came!

The parcel idea for a book is a great, and it had me guessing all the way through as to who was responsible. Of course, the other characters come up with lots of theories as to who is sending the presents, as does Anna herself, but when the big reveal was finally made right towards the end of the book I was shocked - and if I am completely honest (which I always try to be in my reviews!), a little disappointed. I was hoping for something a bit extra special, and it just left me a bit flat which was a shame after such a big build up throughout the whole book. It was a surprise which is great, because I always like to be surprised, and so often these days I see the twists in the tales I read coming a mile off, but I certainly didn't guess this one.

At over 500 pages, this book was a really long for me, and I did perhaps struggle with the length of it a little bit - I did feel some parts dragged quite a bit, and some of the narrative could have been cut down in parts simply because I personally found the pace was dragging. I prefer reading a book that is between 300-400 pages, so for me this was a tad too long, which was a shame. However, Dickinson does pack a lot into these 500+ pages, and there's always something to keep you guessing and on your toes. I just found it a little bit slow for my liking, but that's just a personal preference and I am sure there are lots of you out there who enjoy reading a longer story.

I loved the setting of a newspaper office, which is where the bulk of the action takes place, given that is where Anna works. There are lots of colleagues who make frequent appearances throughout the book, and as Anna begins to change due to the gifts that she receives, so does her work based relationships which was interesting to read - it was nice to see Anna growing in confidence and having more self-belief which was she was really lacking at the beginning of the book. There are quite a few other characters in the book and it took me a while to remember who they all were and how they were connected to Anna, but once I had got it straight, I found reading the book really easy, and enjoyed all the different aspects of Anna's life.

For me, this was an enjoyable read, but it wasn't my favourite of Miranda's books. It was a little bit long for my taste, and the ending just didn't work for me sadly, but I did really enjoy the build up to it, and the mystery over who could be sending Anna these mysterious parcels, and of course why they were sending them! Anna's personal life alongside this gives the book lots for you to enjoy, and I especially enjoyed how the narrative perspective occasionally changed from Anna to other characters in the book, so we got to see how others viewed Anna and her situation, certainly an interesting twist on the situation. A very good read, one to curl up on these cold autumnal evenings.

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