Book review: A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
If any film-makers out there have never curled up with a Jill Mansell book, then perhaps now is a good time to start.
A Walk in the Park is just the latest of her trademark romantic comedies which seem to gravitate to the top of the best-seller lists like a compass point to magnetic north.
And judging by this sparkling little number, she’s just getting better and better...
Wryly funny, wise and always deliciously on-song, her stories feature the kind of characters we have all met ... or would like to meet.
Take Lara Carson – at the tender age of 13, she was understandably hacked off when her father installed his new love Janice in their home just six months after Lara’s mother died.
It was clear from the start that Lara wasn’t welcome there any more. ‘Why can’t she just join the army or something,’ the lovely Janice was overheard confiding to a friend.
Three years later, life was still grim but she did have the consolation of Flynn Erskine, the handsomest and ‘best boyfriend’ in the world who made up for a lot of the misery in her life.
That is until her father chucked her out for being late home one night and she ended up on the doorstep of Aunt Nettie in Keswick who welcomed her with a big, warm maiden aunt hug and the promise of a new home with her.
There was just one problem... Lara had brought an extra ‘item’ with her baggage, the baby she was expecting to the blissfully unaware and now ex-boyfriend Flynn.
Fast forward over 18 years and Lara and her beautiful and bubbly daughter Gigi have returned to Bath for the funeral of Lara’s father and the unexpected news that his house is now theirs.
Of course, Lara’s return is causing a stir – not least with former best friend Evie who has a lot to catch up on and is on the verge of marrying her ‘bad boy’ dream lover Joel Barber.
There’s also the not insignificant and disturbing re-acquaintance with once adored boyfriend Flynn, now a handsome, mature and be-suited man rather than the dishevelled teenager in a T-shirt that she remembers.
The spark between them is as strong as ever, but how will Flynn react when he discovers the secret she has been keeping from him? There’s a lot of catching up to be done, that’s for sure...
Mansell knows all about life and love, how to make us laugh, how to make us cry and how to keep us reading long after the clocks have struck midnight.
Resourceful Lara, the lovable Gigi and ever-resilient Evie make a terrific starring threesome in a story as full of surprises and drama as it is of comic capers and true romance.
Now turn all these gorgeous goings-on into a film and the likes of Notting Hill and Love Actually would really get a run for their money!
(Headline Review, hardback, £14.99)