Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell
A contemporary view of a community, this well written, witty book is a genuine escapist gem. Set in a fictional town in Cornwall, it features some fascinating characters who find themselves in complicated situations, some of whom are searching for resolutions that may not exist. While three relatively young people are at the heart of the story in some respects, it is often their relationships with older characters that are also really satisfying. Very different people, brilliantly described, encounter challenges in this novel that are continually surprising and always interesting.
Amber, Lachlan and Raffaele were all fostered at some point by Teddy and May, and it is there that their relationship began. May has now died, and the three friends are worried about Teddy, who seems to have found a new friend in Olga, who is younger, more vibrant and perhaps more acquisitive than they would like. Meanwhile Raffaele is saddened by his recent break up with the dynamic Vee, who seems to have changed from the lovable woman he first met. Peggy is an amazing character, but is concerned about her shy son Benjie who seems to be finding life difficult. As Mansell describes the colours, clothes and setting of a few weeks by the sea, I was carried along in a wonderful haze of dialogue and events that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this book, and I would recommend it.
The book opens with an incident in the life of Lachlan, talented chef and known for his brief liaisons with women. It is one of the reasons that Amber, who has been attracted to him for years, will not mention her true feelings, not wanting to threaten their deep friendship over a brief affair. They are brought together by their concern over Teddy. After a period of mourning, Amber had succeeded in persuading him to go on a cruise. Lachlan is concerned because he seems to have found a person to spend time with who is the complete opposite of his late wife May, the dramatically dressed Olga. Lachlan particularly jumps to the conclusion that she is only attracted by Teddy’s evident wealth and generosity. Amber then thinks back to her first encounter with Raffaele and Lachlan, the two boys brought together by their difficult backgrounds and experiences in the care system. It soon becomes evident that the relationship between the three of them means that they try to protect each other from all trouble, feeling deep sympathy for each other even though they are now successful adults. Their encounters with Teddy and the remarkable Olga, as well as the now challenging Vee, shows that they are a thoughtful group who value each other immensely. Peggy, wealthy and dynamic, has insisted in helping Lachlan set up his successful restaurant in Lanrock, is instrumental in improving Amber’s stained glass business, and is convinced that her own art needs to find its true audience. Her son Benjie cannot always keep up with his mother’s outrageous ideas, and finds that she will do many things in order to get her way.
Overall, this is a combination of stories and themes that provide a fascinating read. There are twists that I did not foresee, events that move everyone one along, experiences that are well described. I really enjoyed reading this well written book, and will definitely find others by this talented author.