Classic Chick Lit from Lindsey Kelk.
IHL is a classic chick lit novel fresh from HarperCollins, a huge commercial publisher vastly experienced in the production of material that’s light, frothy and inoffensive. If the publisher were a barista, this book would be their A-star cappuccino.
At the heart of the book is 29 year old Angela Clark, a Surrey Native who, after a failed engagement with lothario boyfriend Mark, hot foots it off to New York. In two years, she conquers heartbreak and Manhattan, establishing herself as a credible magazine writer, and falling in love with Alex – a lead singer in an American rock band.
When Angela has a business trip to London arranged, Alex goes with her. When he meets her parents, the idea that they get married – organising a wedding in seven days – takes hold, and the event preparation forms the crux of the novel.
IHL isn’t a page-turning, action packed story; but then again, that’s not the point of chick lit. The narrative is very much the journey to the wedding, and features classic ticked boxes; finding a dress, sourcing a cake, arranging a bachelorette party, and of course the obligatory backdrop of a few hangovers and ill advised bottles of wine at lunchtime.
The problem with this book, for me, is the distinct ‘conveyor belt’ feel to it. Kelk is a hugely established author with over ten books in this genre published, but that level of industry, whilst impressive, admirable, and one assumes – lucrative for the author, seems to have come at the cost of creativity. A few set pieces feel one dimensional and lacking in the sparkly humour one can rightly expect from the category. Much of Angela’s journey to marriage is really a series of conversations with those around her, prompting her own pontifications on children, family, and her own past.
A book with such a title also should really offer London itself as another character in the book, but this is not the case. Aside from a cringe-worthy conversation Angela has with St Paul’s Cathedral (including the galling line ‘we’d both had to recover and rebuild ourselves’), London is merely a title city and very little else. This is more confusing when Angela’s ‘London’ trip is located principally at her Surrey childhood home – forty minutes outside of the capital.
So, whilst IHL is an admirable frothy read, I won’t be recommending it, or calling it an important chick lit novel. If you do want to read a chick lit book that is a pure-blood when it comes to this genre though, I Heart London could be for you.
Our rating – 3/10. The writing is solid and accurate, it’s just the storyline, characters and overall experience that hindered its point scoring potential.