(self-published e-book 2011)
Sophie is a journalist, more-or-less happily engaged to Tim, an accountant, when she meets up with members of the former rock band Tusk. In her late teens, we discover, Sophie had had a huge crush on the singer, Dan, and spent a night with the band after a gig in Edinburgh, which has proved to be one of the most momentous nights of her life.
The book begins with a prologue, in which we encounter Sophie and Dan in Paris, and in which Dan proposes to Sophie – she accepts, but not seriously, because she is sure he’s not being serious, and because she’s currently engaged to someone else. During the rest of the book, Sophie recounts the story of how she got to this point, while also flash-backing to the memorable Edinburgh gig, and how she resolves the dilemma facing her.
I should confess in advance that Nicky Wells is a friend, but I have tried to be as objective as possible in this review.
I enjoyed the book, though I don’t read a lot of this kind of fiction. It’s well-plotted and the writing is workmanlike rather than descriptive. At first, Sophie is rather a hard character to like, for me – she clearly doesn’t love Tim, but deludes herself constantly about him, simply because she wants a boyfriend and security. Her best friend, Rachel, is much more clear-sighted about Sophie’s relationship with Tim, and the interactions between the two women are realistic and often amusing. The way Sophie cringes with embarrassment at Tim being found out in his determination to kill slugs at midnight is hard for me to sympathise with, as is her insistence on her boyfriend performing the conventional signals and actions of what she sees to be the ideal relationship. Yes, flowers and romantic gestures are nice, but the way Rachel and she criticise Tim for daring to make suggestions for the wedding seems ludicrous – marriage isn’t solely about the bride, despite what they think.
However, during the course of the book, Sophie does grow up, sorts out her feelings for both Tim and Dan, and the book ends very satisfyingly.
There’s quite a lot of comedy in the book, and I liked seeing glimpses of Sophie’s work – so often the work life of fictional characters intrudes so seldom into the narrative that one wonders how they can spend time doing all the non-work activities described – and her concern over money and her budgeting is realistic. Wells shows her inexperience with the sudden introduction of Sophie’s parents in the narrative at a crucial point, which makes their appearance seem a little too much like a plot contrivance: however, they’re written as real people and Sophie’s relationship with them is touching.
To sum up, an entertaining piece of wish-fulfilment which is resolved satisfyingly and realistically, with a flawed heroine who eventually realises what is important in life.