Strengths: It’s a warm, engaging story with interesting characters.
Weaknesses: Kind of predictable ending (that I wanted to happen anyway).
Why I read it: Christmas present!
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Setting: England and Australia
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Everything Changes But You (which immediately makes me think of the Take That song, check it out here if you are too young to remember that Robbie was in a band once) is the kind of chick lit you can take comfort in. By that, I mean that you know the story will be engaging, the characters quirky and individual and that you’ll be taken on a fun ride that won’t demand the same amount of brain cells that say, quantum physics does. I’m still trying to work out exactly who the character is in the novel that doesn’t change but it’s a good book, excellent for holiday reading.
I was a bit disappointed in Maggie Alderson’s previous book, Shall We Dance? because I felt it moved towards ‘mummy-lit’ with its older central character and problems with university-aged children. I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed Everything Changes But You a lot more – the main character, Hannah, still has a husband and a family, but they’re a lot younger. Hannah also has the requisite job in beauty editing (I love reading about jobs like that, they always sound so glamorous) and a bit of family money. Her husband Matt is a struggling songwriter and expat Aussie, trying to work all night while she works all day. It doesn’t really seem to work and after a change in circumstances, the couple and their two children move to a storybook English village. But the trouble doesn’t end there – there’s family, fidelity and financial issues.
The supporting characters are also delightful, annoying and frustrating in turn. Ali is Matt’s Australian cousin, off on the big London adventure. She’s charming and brings a youthful eye to things. Her previous job as a lap dancer didn’t really fit into the novel all that well I thought, but it’s a minor point. Anthea is Hannah’s mum’s neighbour – a delightfully busybody English stereotype. Her appearances always brought out a wry grin from me as she attempted to control absolutely everything. Finally, Pete is Matt’s Aussie co-songwriter – a cliché of the Aussie stereotype (especially in regard to the word ‘mate’ or should I say ‘maaaaaaate’?) He’s kind of likeable, but also kind of annoying because you know exactly what will happen to him.
Which brings me to the ending – it wasn’t terribly original, but it was the ending that I was probably hoping for. It is just open ended enough to have a sequel, but brings enough closure to end the story there and then. I could have also done with a few more beauty details besides the sparkly mascara, but there was enough description of clothes and shoes to please the majority of fashionistas.
It’s a really well written chick lit that fans in both Australia and the UK will enjoy. Just don’t expect too many changes to the classic formula and it’s a lovely read.