Thanks to Michael Joseph and Netgalley for the ARC.
I haven’t been the biggest fan of Giovanna’s fiction in the past. I really didn’t get on with Billy and Me so I’ve tended to avoid it since then. However, I adore all of her other work, and after really enjoying Happy Mum Happy Baby earlier this year, I was inspired by the title, the more mature cover, the hardback publication and the intriguing synopsis of Some Kind of Wonderful to give it a go. You know what? I’m very glad I did!
Lizzy has been with Ian ever since she was a fresher 10 years ago and she is desperate for him to propose. At every big occasion, every Christmas, New Year and holiday, she is convinced that this is going to be it, this is going to be the time she gets to say yes. After waiting patiently, a romantic holiday in Dubai seems like the obvious setting for the big proposal and it is all Lizzy can think about. The last night comes and Lizzy is worried that she will be disappointed yet again, but a lavish private dinner puts her mind at rest. After an agonising wait, a drunken Ian is inches away from popping the question but then reveals he simply cannot go through with it. A shell-shocked, devastated Lizzy is forced to come home to her family to rebuild her life and her very identity, without the man she thought she would be with forever.
I was drawn in from the start by the indulgence and luxury of Dubai and by Lizzy’s infectious nervous excitement. The contrast with her raw emotion following the rejection works very well and propelled me to keep reading.
I absolutely love Lizzy! She is an Essex girl with a big heart and she is so funny and self-aware. She consistently reflects on both her flaws and her strengths and I respected her so much. Her casual slut-shaming and decor snobbery are not cool, but they do not overshadow her positive qualities.
Some Kind of Wonderful is one of the most relatable stories I have ever read. We may not have been through Lizzy’s specific situation but we have all experienced what feels like an earth-shattering event to us, only for the world to keep on turning like nothing has happened. Equally, we have all had times in life when we reflect on what we’ve done, who we are and the person we want to be, even if it’s just making those New Year’s Resolutions every December! The plot is so realistic; it isn’t about Lizzy going on a grand adventure to ‘find herself,’ it’s about her recovering back home, making lists, questioning every decision and carving herself a new path in a way that we all do after a big change in our lives. At every stage, I kept thinking ‘Yep, that’s what I’d do!’ Her journey is so believable and heartwarming and it had me rooting for her all the way.
Lizzy is surrounded by a fantastic cast of characters. Connie is the most amazing best friend and the support Lizzy receives from friends, family and acquaintances is lovely to read. The way that these relationships are examined and tested adds a whole new dimension to the book, making it even richer.
The one thing that still irks me about Giovanna’s fiction is her writing style. She uses dialogue to overtly explain points to the reader, which sometimes makes the words sound funny and unrealistic in the characters’ mouths. She often adds unnecessary words and phrases: an ‘as a result’ here, a needless extra adjective there, and this makes the writing clunky and less pleasant to read. It’s like she’s writing a uni essay and is trying to bring up the word count!
However, ultimately I was able to look past this, and for me, the story itself is flawless. Some Kind of Wonderful is a gorgeous, warm, easy-to-read tale of a key turning point in an amazing young woman’s life and it is one that I would recommend.
Some Kind of Wonderful is released on 16th November 2017.