Thursday 23 November 2017

Hill delivers with this Labour of love

The Truth About You
Melissa Hill (Hodder & Stoughton, €13.99)

It's the literary equivalent of a warm hug. Say what you like about chick lit, its successful proponents know exactly what makes an endearing tale and once they master the art, the successful ones certainly are prolific. Take Melissa Hill, whose ninth novel The Truth About You has raced straight to the top of the bestseller list. It's no surprise, really, because the author has enough experience to adhere to a tried-and-trusted formula.

Three women find themselves in the middle of a crisis. Unable to turn to their nearest and dearest, they take solace in new friendships and their lives become increasingly entangled.

Nina, Ruth and Jess have all reached a crossroads in their lives. Nina finds herself alone and homeless after a devastating break-up with her man. With nowhere to go, she's forced to move in with her father who lives in the small town of Lakeview. Although she used to visit him as a child, Nina has become increasingly estranged from her difficult dad.

It was all meant to be so different for Ruth. Her dreams of fame are finally coming true. The star of American drama Glamazons has been planning her triumphant return from LA for quite a while, but she never planned on a one-night stand with her co-star being caught on camera.

Jess is happy with her life -- her demanding job with all its perks, and her marriage to the gorgeous, loving Brian. But her friends are all yummy mummies now, and she gets the very definite impression that they consider her to be shallow and vacuous just because she hasn't played the procreation game yet. Maybe it's time she joined the club. Her husband isn't quite so sure. And really her friends aren't the kind that you would actually like to hang out with.

As Nina settles into Lakeview, she becomes friends with Ruth, who is forced to confront some very important choices as her past comes back to haunt her. This time, will she have the courage to make the right choice?

Nina is truly confused. Her uncommunicative father has made it plain that he considers her unexpected pregnancy a real problem. And as Jess becomes increasingly terrified of losing her friends, she grows more fixated on having a baby of her own, but is she driving Brian away in the process?

Hill knows just what her audience likes, and she delivers in spades. This is a feel-good tale, despite its potentially shocking opening chapter, with a few choice life lessons thrown in for good measure. But although it's an easy read, there's something a little unsatisfying about The Truth About You.

It feels very rushed and perhaps the fact that Hill found herself unexpectedly pregnant while she was writing it might account for that. A little more time dedicated to plot, characterisation and pace, rather than delivery date, would have made for a better read. Still, just like their creator, Hill's heroines get their happy endings, too.

Irish Independent

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