The day a new Joanna Bolouri book is released truly is the most wonderful time of the year for me. After I discovered Joanna’s first book The List published in 2013 I became addicted to her wit, relatable characters and laugh out loud writing. Her next novel I Followed the Rules had me snort-laughing in the middle of Costa (other coffee shops are available) so it’s no surprise that I’ve been waiting for her next book for a while, with excitement. Having located it in my local WHSmiths and finding one of our Novelicious quotations on the back cover #justsayin’ - I ran home with it to devour.
Ahhh, Christmas. Tinsel, twinkly lights and…family. Crazy, overbearing, judgemental and fuelled by copious amounts of booze. And that’s just Emily’s.
Emily Carson is a 38 year old English teacher, living in London with flatmates Toby and Abi, who bicker just as much as they secretly have sex when they think Emily isn’t listening. Emily’s happy with her life, 411 miles away from her interfering parents living on the Scottish borders, especially with new boyfriend Robert, a marketing exec with an attitude problem who Emily thinks is perfect for her. So perfect in fact that she’d like to take him home for Christmas and Robert agrees, that is until Emily finds out that he has a dark secret and suddenly the idea of being as far away from him as possible seems like the most appealing thing in the world…until she remembers her mother is expecting Robert. Awks.
Unable to face the endless questions and comments on her choice in men from her family Emily decides to do the only sensible thing…pay her handsome, 28 year old neighbour, Evan, to be Robert for four days. Emily considers it repayment for all the night’s he’s kept her awake having noisy, rampant sex with a string of inappropriate women next-door.
Everyone can relate to the characters in this book, the time of year, the pressure of being the oldest in the family and not yet married. The judgemental, married younger siblings and the mother that thinks she knows best. Though collectively the Carson’s are endearing and as Emily describes them “a bit bat shit crazy”, their Christmases are the kind you hope to experience, everyone together, games, drinking, eating and being merry…well, when there isn’t a giant dog sleeping on your bed and someone pretending to be your boyfriend in front of your family. Emily and Evan’s banter is witty throughout and though at first they hate each other you find yourself hoping for something romantic to happen between them.
The secondary characters, including Pacino the dog, provide endless laughs and the battle to provide a convincing façade for her family sees Emily in a variety of tricky situations that she manages to negotiate in hilarious ways.
Full of festive frolics and fantastic characters you could read this book at any time of the year and enjoy it. If you like books that make you laugh and contain a generous helping of realism then any of Joanna’s book are for you. With her comedy timing and excellent way with words Joanna Bolouri is easily the funniest writer I’ve discovered in the last few years.
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