Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: From Notting Hill With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy ...wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant. Scarlett loves the movies. But does she love sensible fiance David just as much? With a big white wedding on the horizon, Scarlett really should have decided by now ...When she has the chance to house-sit in Notting Hill - the setting of one of her favourite movies - Scarlett jumps at the chance. But living life like a movie is trickier than it seems, especially when her new neighbour Sean is so irritating. And so irritatingly handsome, too. Scarlett soon finds herself starring in a romantic comedy of her very own: but who will end up as the leading man? 

Synopsis courtesy of

My Review

3.5 Stars

From Notting Hill With Love...Actually, the debut novel from British author Ali McNamara, is a charming read for anyone who enjoys, as the title implies, romantic comedies. 

Scarlett O'Brien is a young woman with a love of the cinema, a love her family and friends simply don't understand.   After a row with her fiance David, Scarlett's father convinces her to take time for herself in order to determine what she really wants out of life.   When an opportunity to house-sit in Notting Hill arises, Scarlett leaves her home in Stratford and heads for London.   Although her family and friends think Scarlett is spending time away to make sense of her life, Scarlett herself sets out with the intent of proving that life can, in fact, be just like the movies.   While in Notting Hill, Scarlett meets an interesting cast of characters, including handsome next-door neighbour Sean, who set into motion events that leave Scarlett thinking she will be able to prove wrong all those naysayers telling her life isn't like the movies.  Along the way, however, Scarlett comes question if she is meant for a happily-ever-after and realizes that her actions can cause unintended pain to those she loves.  Will Scarlett actually be able to prove that life is like the movies after all? 

From Notting Hill With Love...Actually is fun, it's humorous and it has a wonderful cast of characters.   While the plot itself is predictable, it does include a few twists that made me briefly wonder if the outcome I expected would indeed come to pass.   While initially wary of Scarlett herself, mainly because it's hard to connect with a character obsessed with films, I ultimately found her endearing.   Her difficulties in knowing what to do about life and love is a theme to which many readers can relate.   My only criticism of the novel pertains to the characterization of Scarlett's fiance, David.  While Scarlett is bubbly and full of life, David is flat and uninspired leaving it hard to understand why Scarlett is engaged to him.   While this serves to make it easier for readers to attach themselves to Sean, Scarlett's friend in Notting Hill, with little to like about David it makes the unfolding and resolution of the love triangle plot that much more predictable.   Nevertheless, given this is a novel version of a romantic comedy, the ultimate outcome of the love triangle is never really in doubt anyway and, for this reason, the lack of depth or likeability to David didn't impact on my enjoyment of the novel.  

Note:  This novel comes from my own personal collection.