What we thought: A deceptively thoughtful read, which starts in a similar vein to many chick-lit novels. Hannah’s thirty-six, her career and romantic life have both stalled and her nearest companion is a flatulent bulldog.
But read on. She strikes up a friendship with Victor, an elderly French lift attendant, and they begin to attend an art house cinema to explore Nouvelle Vague, Truffaut, Godard and a passion for films of people's stories.
The narrative switches between Hannah’s past and present, alluding to a traumatic schism between the two. She meets Joe, a dog walker, who makes her feel she might trust her heart again. She draws Ian, the new boy in the office, out of his shell. She considers all the mistakes she’s made. And she thinks about Victor.
The book is deeper and darker than it first appears and perseverance pays off. The looming shadow hinted at from the start grows larger and more intrusive until both Hannah and the reader have to face the truth.
A surprising, endearing and layered novel of perception and personality, well rooted in its environment, populated with noisy, entertaining and believable characters, of which the most loveable might be Nellie, the greedy, sulky, demanding bulldog.
This is an entertaining and intelligent debut and I suspect Hattie Holden Edmonds may well be a writer to watch.
You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Running in Heels by Anna Maxted, Rachel’s Holiday by Marianne Keyes and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
Avoid if you dislike: Shifting timescales, uncertain realities, European cinematic references.
Ideal accompaniments: Croque monsieur from Luigi’s, Chardonnay from Waitrose and this Nouvelle Vague take on London classics.
Genre: Dark chicklit
Available from Amazon