Phil: According to the BBC, last week 10 years since the great financial crash. Banks were hastily thrown vast amounts of money, a few bankers lost their jobs and everyone prepared for financial Armageddon.
A couple of months earlier, I had thrown in my job with plans to travel and write and generally eat through a big chunk of my savings, treating myself to the gap year I’d missed out on because I didn’t go to university. Not that I’d have been brave enough to take that year of course, but I’d got old enough to think I might be ready for it 25 years later.
All this came back to me as I read Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson.
The story concerns Nell who loses her job as a planning officer and instead of plunging into the local jobs market, decides to take off to visit her cousin in San Francisco for a couple of months with her redundancy money. She has a dream of running an American style diner in the UK and as luck would have it, ends up meeting a diner owner in the US who shows her the ropes.
Along the way, there is a dalliance with a hunky, grey-eyed artist and generally, a good time is had by all. So good in fact, that you have to get 2/3rds of the way through the book before there is any jeopardy. Redundancy aside, her life goes swimmingly the moment her feet hit US soil with a succession of happy coincidences. As a travel promotion for the city, it’s great, and you can tell the author fell in love with the place.
As with any chick-lit, all ends happily, especially for the publishers who surely have a potential sequel being written since the story couldn’t have ended in a better place for this.
To be honest, it’s light, pleasant reading. Undemanding and perfect for a sun lounger.
My biggest complaint is the cover, which has all the hallmarks of a designer keen to go to the pub. The story is set where? Well, put the Golden Gate bridge on. It’s about a youngish woman? Where’s that CD full of unconvincing clipart? Job done – let’s go.
Having said this, my own story also enjoyed a few happy coincidences. Jumping into the world of temporary jobs, I ended up working with Candice and when the place closed down, we found ourselves with lots of time and no work so started writing a book. Which became a series. And a lasting friendship.
Now if only we could get someone to sign up to turn them into a major feature film, this really would read like a book…