Saturday, 20 June 2009
It's one thing getting rejections for mag stories or even a novel submission but imagine you're a published novelist checking out your ranking on Amazon only to find customers have posted scathing reviews of your book. Working Wonders by Jenny Colgan is a case in point. It scores 3 stars out of the 5 and has some of the most diverse reviews I've seen on Amazon with remarks ranging from 'Exquisite' to 'Downright boring'. Ouch!
When I posted my thoughts on book covers on here, I'd picked out several books from my shelves and realised I hadn't read this one by Jenny even though I've probably had it since it was published in 2003! I've read around 4 of her other books and enjoyed them, so decided Working Wonders would be my read for the week. From the cover I was expecting chick-lit but it's much more. And maybe this is why some of her followers didn't like this one. I'd say it was more mystical escapism. I found it a refreshing change from the high-flying-thirty-something-career girl-looking-for-love type read. I also liked the ordinariness (is that a word?) of the setting - a town planning office in Coventry. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it. 5 stars, Jenny!
Written from the male protags POV. the plot goes something like this:
Arthur Pendleton has led an unexciting life, working as a town planner and slowly realising that his life holds few surprises. Then he encounters the head of a team of management consultants, the beguiling and beautiful Gwyneth Morgan, a woman Arthur finds himself intimidated by. Her job is to inspire Arthur and his ill-assorted team of planners to take on a daunting task--ensure that Coventry becomes the new European city of culture. Looking around at such colleagues as nerdish computer expert Sven and the unhappy (and long-suffering) Cathy, Arthur becomes increasingly dispirited. And then, astonishingly, Gwyneth shows signs of being attracted to him, and (even more surprisingly) his team begins to fire on all cylinders with ideas. But which is more achievable: beginning a relationship with the intriguing Gwyneth, or making Coventry appear interesting? The elements that made Jenny Colgan's earlier books bestsellers are firmly in place here: quirkily observed characters, capricious plotting and a truly involving sense of the way in which most of us live our lives. Both Arthur and Gwyneth are beautifully drawn, and even if the basic theme (dull hero and brighter heroine in a non-metropolitan culture clash) may owe something to David Lodge's Changing Places, it's none the worse for that; this is an enchanting read. (Taken from Amazon)