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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
Rumour Has It - Jill Mansell An astonishing collection of WTF-erry, preposterous premise(s), and stupid coincidences. I really wanted to like this...expected to, point of fact...but...ugh.

The main characters:

Tilly, formerly of London, now living in the little town of Roxborough, where she is employed by Max, an interior designer. Tilly's position is Max's live-in personal assistant, helping with his business and raising his fourteen-year-old daughter Lou. Soon after moving to Roxborough, she meets and starts to fall for the town rake, Jack Lucas.

Erin is Tilly's best friend and the owner of a small used clothing boutique. She is dating Fergus, who is still married to, but separated from his wife, Stella, the town harpy.

Kaye is Max's ex-wife. The marriage happened at a time when Max, who is gay, was playing at straight. Following the divorce, Kay went off to Hollywood to be an actress. Driven out of Tinseltown by a scandal, she's back in the UK and in Roxborough until she figures out what to do next.

I have a fondness for British chick-lit which is why I picked this up. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a train wreck on top of a car crash dipped in a tornado. Just a mess.

First, there are too many characters doing ostensibly, nothing. No sense of cohesion.

Second, the characterization is uneven and in some cases, grating. Tilly, for example, starts out strong, assertive and smart. Seeing the ad for a "Girl Friday" in the Roxborough newspaper, she calls the number and insists on an immediate interview. The initial interactions between her and Max are great, snappy, fun, etc.

Then comes Jack and away goes Tilly's brain. And not in a cute way. After meeting him, she is intrigued, even though Everyone and their dog tells her he's a man whore. Of course, Jack soon decides (for no apparent reason) that Tilly is The One, the woman who is worth loving despite his broken heart (his fiancee, Rose, died several years before). Even though he makes a decent effort to show her that he's genuinely interested, Tilly proceeds to believe every lame-ass rumor about him that she hears. Like the one where he supposedly got a woman pregnant.

Jack tells her he didn't sleep with the woman. But she doesn't believe him because the woman claims they did make the beast with two backs. Get this. It doesn't occur to Tilly that the woman might be lying. When it finally does, she concocts a scheme to get every woman in Roxborough to admit that they also lied about having sex with Jack.

Jack is exonerated. Except he isn't. Now, out-of-the-blue, like in the last few pages, we learn that Tilly is desperately afraid of getting hurt. So she just can't, can't, I tell you, let herself believe that Jack's feelings are genuine. At this point, I'm hoping a meteorite will fall from the sky and turn Tilly into a smear of red goo and crumbled bone on the sidewalk.

Meanwhile, best buddy Erin is being harassed and stalked by Stella, the baby-crazed loon. (Is this kind of shit legal in the UK? Because the kind of crap Stella pulls would have earned her a restraining order here in the U.S. of A.) Stella is dangerously obsessed with Fergus. Anyway, about halfway through the book, it turns out Stella has cancer in every organ in her body and only has two weeks to live. She didn't notice the humungous tumors because she was so stressed about her broken marriage.

Yes, this is really how the story goes. I shit you not. I guess this is medically possible, but it's also highly improbable. If only because cancer hurts like a mo-fucker and that much cancer has to be excruciating.

Because the reader is required to believe that Erin is a saint, Erin immediately cancels her holiday to Venice with Fergus, and spends all her time at the hospital, holding Stella's hand as she literally wastes away in a week. (She literally goes from hot-Botoxed-trophy-wife type to extra from The Walking Dead in a matter of days. It's nothing short of a not-miracle.)

Stella dies, Erin arranges the funeral and then she and Fergus live...well they live. There's no chemistry between the two; their relationship gets very little development because...Stella. Really, it's all totally pointless.

Kaye, meanwhile, sulks around Roxborough for a time, meets her American stalker, falls head over heels in love with stalker man, gives up her career and then moves to New York to live with stalker and his no doubt, multiple shrines to her. All in just a few days.

Wow. Just...wow.

Two stars instead of one because it was so awful I had to keep reading, thinking, "No, this really isn't going there...oh, wait...it is."