Should I Tell You? by Jill Mansell – an escapist gem of community, friendship and much more

Posting on the first day of the tour!

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.      

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell – a terrific romantic comedy with a certain flair and heart

In this novel it is all about the timing. Romance, unexpected dramas, reconciliations and challenges all happen in an English village. This is a novel set in the twenty first century, when mobile phones, public relations via social media and expectations of romance are not straightforward. While Mimi, the centre of the novel, is a young woman of ability and talent, her development as a character is carefully written in parallel with events in the lives of the other people who feature in the book. This is essentially the story of some of the people in a village and the events which overtake them, but also what they make of those events. The title refers to the timing of events, changes and human reactions which mean that people cannot always be together despite their feelings, and true romance must wait. I was really pleased to be offered a copy of Jill Mansell’s latest book for a blog tour stop.

Mimi is a young woman who is working hard in P.R. in London. As the book opens she is travelling to Goosebrook in the Cotswolds to see her father and his new partner, Marcus. Her complete misunderstanding of country ways and a harsh local woman, Henrietta, means that she walks miles into the village from the railway station. When she sees what she believes is an attack, she wades in and meets the handsome Cal. She is fascinated by people, and capable of dealing with some difficult characters, but soon comes to realise that when it comes to her own romantic life, she will struggle. A terrible event upsets everything in the community that Mimi has begun to feel part of, and when she begins to build a new life finds that she cannot be certain of anything or indeed anyone. I particularly liked the character of CJ, the awkward author who needs more than a firm hand in order to get him working. The ABBA party is a lovely idea, and provides several comic moments.

There are many touching and funny parts of this book, as Mansell develops the stories of many characters and handles them all with a practiced hand. Many satisfactory threads are tied up; this is an author who thoroughly understands the art of balancing storylines, avoiding repetition and completing each characters’ story. She focuses on Mimi in a clever way, as we see each character through her eyes, even though told in the third person. Thus the reader discovers with Mimi significant events, peoples’ true motives, and how some can be persuaded to take actions which will change their lives. There are some good people, some bad, but no one is completely obvious and this is the sign of a mature writer, confident of her material and ability to construct complicated characters. I really enjoyed this book; I found it satisfying when some people got their just desserts, even when it could be a little frustrating as the obvious took a while to work out. I found it funny, intriguing and overall a jolly read, despite certain tragic events. I recommend it as a good and entertaining read that many readers can look forward to enjoying.

I saw this book in the wild while visiting Meadowhall Waterstones. Having not spent my money on my loyalty card before, I had a good look at the hard back history books. I invested in “Behind the Throne –  a Domestic History of the Royal Household” by Adrian Tinniswood which looks at the history of the servants since Elizabeth I. Now I am not sure when I can squeeze it in to read…..