I first wrote this review for my Goodreads account, but it ties in quite nicely with one of my previous posts about the fixation on women’s weight and their relationship with food in chick lit, so I thought I’d repost it here. It’s a bit depressing how little some tropes have moved on.
**Note: I got this book for free through PeerIndex, on the understanding that I might review it**
Having read some interesting reviews of Stella Newman’s last book, I was a bit nervous about reading this one. Plus, at 32 I think I can safely say I’m at the older end of the chicklit target market and a bit past the ‘ooh shiny bags and shoes!’ stage.
The good news is that Leftovers was better than a certain friend had darkly predicted, based on the last book! But, I have to be honest, I didn’t completely blow me away either. There were brilliant moments, sure, but they felt like they were slightly constrained by a cookie cutter plot.
So, let’s talk about the food. Clearly this is a central concept of the story. The heroine uses food to console, calm or excite herself, using it a bit like a drug to regulate her emotions – that’s what I think it was aiming for. In some places it works – I can completely understand why certain dishes are suggested in certain situations in the story. But on the other hand, it tends to get a bit cringey in places.
I’m also troubled by the romantic interludes – I’m not sure if Stella Newman wants us to feel the heroine’s sense of confusion, or if the writer herself is finding keeping the pacing even a challenge. It just seems to me that despite moments of brilliance (I LOVED the bar chat-up ripostes) that things kept happening and the heroine kept going along with them for no discernible reason.
On to the good – as I’ve said above, there are several fantastic and believable moments in bars with sleazy guys that had me almost punching the air and saying “Yesssss!” when each accurate and highly amusing barb hit home. Also, the work environment described is, although obviously exaggerated as all things in this genre tend to be larger than life (except the female leads dress sizes), actually quite recognisable and plausible. Certainly some of the minor characters in the office seem very familiar – I think it’s safe to say we’ve all met a few of them.
So, overall thoughts: This book is ok. It’s funny in parts, interesting, you do see a big chunk of the ending coming, but there are still a couple of surprises. But, what I’d really like to see is Stella Newman maybe writing a different style that gives her a bit more license to push her characters, maybe something a bit more Wendy Holden-ish, because I think she could have a lot of fun with that.