Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Would Like To Meet Book Review

Book blog Blooming Fiction - book review of Would Like To Meet
Could the worst thing that’s ever happened to Hannah Pinkman also turn out to be one of the best?

She and her husband Dan have reached the end of the line. Bored with the same gripes, the same old arguments – in fact, bored with everything – they split up after a trivial row turns into something much more serious.

Now Hannah has to make a new life for herself, but that’s not easy. She’s been so busy being a wife and mum that she’s let all her other interests slip away, along with her friends. And when Hannah is persuaded to join a dating site, her ‘best match’ is the very last person she expects it to be . .

Would Like To Meet
by Polly James

Publisher: Avon
Publish Date: 30 Jun. 2016
ISBN-10: 0007548559
Rating: 4.5/5
*PR copy

Review


Would Like To Meet is living proof that attention on social media is well worth the effort. Hopping around on Twitter I saw many book bloggers raving about the latest book by Polly James. I don't normally succumb to social media marketing but because there were several bloggers I know talking about it I decided to take the plunge and see what was in store for me from this gorgeously fronted book.

Would Like To Meet has a sad beginning where marital problems at home end up in a separation. Arguments over petty everyday issues spiral out of control and things are said which can't be undone. Your husband not fancying you anymore is not something you're likely to forget.

Hannah proceeds to get back on the dating scene with the help of her friends and family though it does cough up many funny incidences. Not unchecking the box 'up for anything' soon makes Hannah realise that she is indeed not up for anything. With contacts who are her son's age, and dodgy looking men who should really know better, Hannah goes through the turmoil of trying to delete then undelete her profiles. That is until she notices one profile in particular. Her husband's.

The plot of Would Like To Meet reminds me very much of the Pina Colada song. I even sang it to myself in between reading sessions. Out of tune I might add. Being in a relationship can end up in a mundane rut which convinces either, or both, parties that they are drifting apart. The problem being that you get comfortable in a routine and can't find a way to spice it back up again. This is the issue for Hannah and Dan.

Talking to Dan through the dating site, under a different name, Hannah finds that she is discovering new things about Dan which could be what they need to rekindle their marriage. The only problem is he doesn't know it's her on the other end of the Internet. So what happens? I'm not exactly going to tell you am I?

I really enjoyed reading Would Like To Meet and really think it open s up some great ideas to help revitalise a relationship. The story is funny, insightful and completely addictive.

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Would Like To Meet:
Kindle - http://amzn.to/2lmdPZL

Exclusive Interview


1. Thank you for joining Blooming Fiction today Polly. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a random fact about yourself?

Hi everyone, I’m Polly James, but I was also known as Molly Bennett when I firs started writing the comic blog, “Mid-Wife Crisis”. A random fact about me is that I used to work for two Members of Parliament, both of whom shall remain anonymous!

2. What's your latest book called and what is it about?

It’s a romantic comedy called, “Would Like to Meet”, and it’s the story of Hannah, who’s newly single after being married to Dan for 27 years. Now she needs to rebuild her life, but that’s not easy when she’s been so busy being a wife and a mother that she’s let all her old friends slip away.

Finding a new man isn’t easy either, as the dating scene is nothing like it was when Hannah was last on her own, especially when it comes to internet dating sites. When Hannah finally signs up for one, her ‘best match’ turns out to be the very last person she expected it to be…

I suppose “Would Like to Meet” is really a book about what happens when a long relationship goes stale, the importance of friendship and how to ‘find’ yourself again.

3. Do we need to read any previous books to understand what's going on in this book?

No. My first novel, “Diary of an Unsmug Married” features an entirely different cast of characters, though it’s also a romantic comedy – but with a twist. It’s often described as Bridget Jones meets Yes, Minister (or The Thick of It).

4. Where did you get your inspiration from for your latest work?

I’m always interested in relationships and what makes them work (or not), probably because there have been so many divorces in my extended family, but the specific idea for “Would Like to Meet” came from a variety of sources. I’d already decided I wanted to write about the end of a long marriage and what happens to both parties next, but I initially struggled to find a unique slant on it.

Then friends who’d recently split up with their longterm partners started telling me how hard it was to resist the temptation to ‘stalk’ their exes on social media whenever they’d had a bad day, or to stop themselves sending crazy-sounding texts while drunk – and that got me thinking about how much technology has altered the process of splitting up and starting a new life over the last ten years or so.

In the days before the internet, you were unlikely ever to see your ex again once you’d broken up with them – unless you’d had children together – and you certainly didn’t have to cope with pictures of him and his new girlfriend popping up on the Facebook timelines of mutual friends when you were least expecting it. You didn’t have to contend with reading boastful tweets about his fab new life on Twitter, or seeing photos on Instagram of him holidaying in exotic places with equally-exotic women either, but now it’s all too easy to torture yourself by checking out all your ex’s social media feeds, and I’m sure that must make getting over losing them much harder than it used to be.

So that led me to thinking about technology and its effect on our love lives, and then I decided to do some research by talking to friends who do internet dating, and also to sign up to some dating sites myself. After that, I came across various online forums where people were chatting about their internet dating experiences, and one thread was particularly fascinating. In it, women were talking about how stunned they’d been when they’d suddenly spotted the profiles of men they thought of as their exclusive boyfriends on dating sites.

Thinking about how that must feel was what finally sparked the idea for what would happen to Hannah in the book, though her experience isn’t the same as that. (I’m not going to tell you what happens to her instead, because that would just spoil the surprise, wouldn’t it?)

5. What would you like readers to get out of reading your book?

I’d like them to laugh, and maybe cry a little, too – though not too much! I’d also like it to make them think about how to avoid taking their partners for granted, and about how to get back to being more like the people they were when they first fell in love.

6. How about other books or stories you've written, are there any stories you would suggest as an ideal starter for readers new to your work?

Both my books are very character-driven, and each one tries to strike a balance between making the reader laugh, as well as think. However, because they feature entirely different characters and plots, it doesn’t matter which order you read them in. (My blog’s quite a good indicator of my writing style, too, but my short stories are much less funny and more ‘literary’, so those don’t really have anything in common with my novels.)

7. Have you taken any of your plots from life experiences?

I wouldn’t ever base an entire plot on my own experiences, or those of my family and friends, but I do draw upon aspects of both during the process of writing my books, like many authors. I think that’s probably essential, if you want your work to be realistic and easy for readers to identify with.

8. Are all your books from the same genre? Is there a genre you would like to try writing?

Both my novels are romantic comedies, which is a genre that suits me because I love writing about relationships and making readers laugh. I’m also working on a sitcom, though, and I’d love to write a crime novel and a children’s book at some time in the future. Having said that, none of these things are ever likely to happen unless I can get over my annoying tendency to choose displacement activity instead of making myself sit down and write!

9. If you weren't an author what career would you see yourself in?

That’s a tough question, because I had enough trouble deciding to become an author, to be honest. I had loads of different jobs before then, ranging from designing cards and clothes and teaching dance, to working as a specialist advisor for the C.A.B.

I didn’t really have any kind of proper ‘career’ until I began working as a constituency caseworker for two Members of Parliament, and that was the job I eventually gave up to become a novelist, so I should probably stick to writing now, instead of changing direction yet again.

If I did have to find another career, though, I’d still like to do something creative, so maybe I could become a landscape gardener. I find gardening really calming, and all that exercise in the fresh air would keep me a lot fitter than sitting at a desk all day!

10. Is there any advice you've been given that you would pass on to anyone who dreams of becoming an author?

I think the best advice I was given was to just get on with it. That’s because thinking about being a writer is very different to being one, as I learned to my cost. I had this half-baked theory that, if ever I decided to become a ‘proper’ writer, all I’d have to do was sit down at my computer and start typing. Then a fully-formed story would flow out of me, as if by magic.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Writing is work, often hard work, and you don’t stand a chance of being a real writer unless you get something down on paper, preferably every day. The other crucial thing is to read a lot, and as widely as you can. Otherwise, how will you be able to tell if your own writing is any good or not?

11. In your spare time, what genres and authors do you like to read?

I read almost anything and everything. In fact, I’d probably read the back of a cereal packet if there was nothing else on offer, but one of my favourite genres is crime fiction, preferably ScandiNoir and European crime writers like Jan Van de Wetering, Fred Vargas and Georges Simenon.

I also love literary fiction, particularly the work of Colette and Ellen Gilchrist, and I enjoy the odd historical novel or blockbuster family saga, too. (There’s nothing like cuddling up on the sofa with a big fat Susan Howatch novel on a rainy day.)

Luckily, I read really fast, so I don’t feel I’m wasting time when I re-read books I’ve read before, and sometimes I’ll even re-read books I loved as a child, like “Marius” by Rolf Docker, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, or “When Marnie Was There” by Joan G. Robinson.

As a result of all this, my ‘read’ bookshelf on Goodreads is almost as diverse as it is long, and the only time I limit my reading is when I’m working on a book of my own. Then I avoid reading any fiction, in case I accidentally steal another author’s idea, or adopt their tone of voice, and I stick to reading non-fiction instead. I particularly like history, popular science and biographies at that point.

12. If you could pick one book to summarise your personality what would it be and why?

Another tough question, as I’m not sure how I’d describe my personality, let alone pick a book to summarise it. At the risk of sounding like someone who can’t follow instructions, can I choose a couple of literary characters I feel a strong kinship with, instead?
When I was a child, I felt as if the character of Anna in “When Marnie Was There” was just like me, and as an adult, I’ve always identified really strongly with Rhoda Manning in Ellen Gilchrist’s wonderful short story collections, which I highly recommend.

13. Is there any author or literary figure, alive or dead, that you would love to meet?

Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole diaries, amongst other novels. She was a comic genius who lived an extremely interesting life, as well as being incredibly brave in the face of severe ill-health.

14. In your opinion, where is the best place to sit down and write?

Anywhere where total silence is guaranteed, and preferably with a sea view, too. (My own desk overlooks a car park, but I live in hope.)

15. Last question, do you have an ultimate goal where your writing will take you? Any awards etc you'd like to win?

I’d love to win any award (except maybe a Bad Sex Award), but so far my experience of awards hasn’t exactly been uncomplicated.
In 2011, I was gobsmacked when my comic blog was long-listed for the Orwell Prize, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, and I was even more amazed when it made the shortlist, too. After that, I was invited to the awards ceremony and a celebratory banquet afterwards, both of which sounded incredibly exciting and made me feel like a proper author for the first time ever – until I realised that now I had a major problem.

I’d been determined to remain anonymous while writing my blog, and so I’d used the pseudonym of the main character, Molly Bennett. The blog got loads of attention from journalists who were all desperate to work out if Molly was real or not, and I’d already started to worry about what would happen when they found out that she was entirely fictional.

The Orwell Prize ceremony was going to be full of journalists with cameras, so if I went, my cover would be completely blown. I was pretty sure that would turn me into a gibbering wreck immediately, and then I’d be bound to make an idiot of myself in public, and so I chickened out.

On the night of the awards, my fellow shortlistees were publicly lauded, and then wined and dined in the heart of London, as they all deserved to be. Meanwhile, I was sitting at home in Norfolk, wearing my pyjamas and waiting for the winners to be announced on Twitter, while eating beans on toast. To add insult to injury, I didn’t even win!
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