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Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansell

sheer mischief jill mansell Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansell

Note to readers: this review may contain spoilers

Poor Janey. Lifes been a tad on hard on her of late. Her husband has up and disappeared (run away? dead? who knows), and now her ladette sister Maxine has rocked up at the front door wearing a wedding dress, demanding a place to stay, and trying to sneak the last chocolate biscuit. Its all bit much, particularly when Janey really just wants to get down to work in her florists shop, and well, watch dodgy soapies and eat Snickers bar after Snickers bar.

But with Maxine around, theres little hope of even a modicum of peace and quiet, so Janey has to act fast, and she does, farming her sister out as a nanny to the local spunky celebrity photographer, Guy. Maxine acerbic style works wonders on Guys children Josh and Ella, but try though she might, Guy himself seems to be looking elsewhereand being overlooked isnt something that the hyper-confident Maxine is used to.

Fortunately for Janey, Maxine is involved enough in her own love life that Janey is left to her own devices, and she begins to take some steps towards healing (or self-destruction, as no doubt shed peg it retrospectively), or at least until her husband arrives back on the scene begging for forgiveness. Janey, delighted to see that her husband is not, well, dead, welcomes him back with open arms, only to realise that perhaps hes not quite the man she wants him to be. And of course, it doesnt help that Janey secretly has a thing for photographer Guy.

Sheer Mischief'is veteran chick lit author Jill Mansells fifth novel. Although its confidently written, with a good deal of humour and some engaging characters, theres an almost painful neatness to this book that takes away from the readers enjoyment. There are only a handful of characters in total, and each ties together into an almost smothering web of relationships, resulting in a tightness of plotting that makes for some predictable yet unbelievable situations and outcomes.

Theres also an unevenness when it comes to the characters, particularly when divided down gender lines, and I felt that the men were in general tarred with the jerk brush, something that continues to be a bugbear for me when reading chick lit (please, can we have some nice chaps? Please?) Part of this, unfortunately, is due to the fact that the characters exhibit little growth, and largely remain who they were at the beginning of the novel, save for the fact that they now have a bonus romantic interest.

Although I did appreciate that Maxine was able to keep up her dastardly ways rather than suddenly turning into a good girl (although admittedly the way that this happened seem a little abrupt and not especially carefully drawn), I have to admit that I spent a good part of the book hoping that Janey would grow a backbone rather than spending her days complaining about her frumpy clothing and moaning about how unlikeable she is. Because, honestly, when its repeated enough, it becomes true. This isnt so much a case of the nice girl unleashing her inner swan and nabbing the hot guy, but rather of the ugly duckling complaining and moaning until some poor prince takes pity on her, and its all rather off-putting. The final confrontation between Janey and her ex-husband and the situation involving Janeys mother and partner (who turns out to be Guys fatheras mentioned, they do indeed keep it in the family) are all a bit over the top, the result of a dash to the literary finish line, and I cant help but feel that the ending would have been stronger had the various players been allowed more ambiguity of character and the plot a slightly more ragged conclusion.

In all, Sheer Mischief'is a decent beach read, but fairly indistinguishable from the myriad other novels just like it.

Rating: star Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansellstar Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansellhalfstar Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansellblankstar Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansellblankstar Book Review: Sheer Mischief by Jill Mansell (not bad)

With thanks to the person who left this in my hotel in Bali for the review copy

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One comment

  1. Jill Mansell /

    Hi there, a reader alerted me to this review as she was alarmed by the plot spoilers you posted. I can see its unlikely youll be reading any more of my books but wonder if I could very respectfully ask you not to post plot spoilers in future, of any authors novels, as it can ruin the enjoyment of the story for the people who are about to read them.
    Hope you dont mind me saying this, and that you had a great time in Bali!
    Jill Mansell x

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