12980294  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.


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