Thanks to my darling sister, I have discovered another funny British chick lit author very similar to Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham. Fortunately, though, Jill Mansell’s characters are not completely and infuriatingly idiotic like Sophie’s/Madeleine’s. Thinking Of You is a delightful fluff of a novel filled with silly Brit-isms, charmingly messy characters and happy endings all around.
Ginny Holland is an almost-40-year-old mother of a teenager, and she’s having a very hard time dealing with her lovely Jem going off to university. In order to distract herself from Empty Nest Syndrome, Ginny applies for a waitressing job at the chicest restaurant in town (which, if real, I’d love to go to some day) and searches for a new roommate to share her modest little house in the English countryside. The new job and the roommate search bring two new men into her life: Finn Penhaligon and Perry Kennedy. Finn is Ginny’s sexy but emotionally damaged new boss, and Perry is Ginny’s new roommate’s suspiciously charming brother. Finn and Ginny are attracted to one another but their almost-relationship screeches to a halt when his ex-fiance shows up, and Perry only pretends to be interested in Ginny so that she’ll let his depressed sister live with her while he fools around with Ginny’s best friend behind her back.
While Ginny is attempting to have a life outside of her daughter and making quite a mess of it, Jem is at university making the same mistakes every 18-year-old at university makes — mostly to do with guys. Jem lives with one good girl friend and one horrible guy who convinces Jem to have secret sex with him. An extraordinarily unhealthy relationship develops, and even when Jem realizes he has also been sleeping with her roommate she stays with him and alienates all the friends she has made along the way. Soon this creep’s unfaithfulness is too much to take and she runs back home into the loving arms of Mom, only to find her mom’s life now looks alarmingly like her own.
Without giving away every little piece of the ending, I’ll just say that everyone pretty much lives happily ever after. As someone who has recently had a hard time with her own mother’s Empty Nest Syndrome, among other things, it is refreshing to read a story like this where everyone involved ends up just fine.