E for England by Elisabeth Rose

In brief: Annie meets Hugh, her neighbour, when she’s looking for her underwear. The unconventional meeting develops into friendship but neither is game to make the next move…

The good: Very well written with humour and empathy

The not-so-good: Waiting for Hugh or Annie to make a move!

Why I chose it: Downloaded from Net Galley – thank you Escape Publishing.

Year: 2013

Pages: 214

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Setting: Sydney, Australia

My rating: 8.5 out of 10

I can tell you now that before last week I had never read any book where the hero and heroine meet while searching for a pair of knickers that blew off a balcony. But now I have – and that’s just how Hugh and Annie meet in E for England. This is a sweet but practical romance in amongst a messy breakup, two young children and a hero trying to atone for his previous sins.

Set in Sydney (I am loving all these Australia-based books I’m reading at the moment), Annie and her two children move in with a work colleague when her husband disappears to ‘find himself’. Living in a trendy city apartment with children is difficult for Annie, as is trying not to impinge on her flatmate Leonie’s love life. When her only ‘good’ undies fly off the drying rack one night, she has to go and find them in the bushes. That’s how she meets James and Hugh, a recently arrived English doctor. Annie and Hugh are attracted, but various internal and external forces keep them apart. Then there’s Leonie, who has started up an alphabet chart for her conquests with a blank spot for E…

Although Leonie’s chart of men sounds risqué, this book is definitely not. It’s quite sweet and more of a family drama with Annie and her kids in the starring role. There’s a little bit of medicine in Hugh’s work as a respiratory physician, but the focus is primarily on relationships. Not just the budding romantic one between Annie and Hugh, but Annie and Leonie and then there’s the return of Annie’s AWOL husband…

Even though Annie’s got a lot of troubles, she’s not a weak or melancholy character. She’s given up a lot for her children, but resolves not to dwell on that. (Some would say too much – occasionally a little of Doormat Annie sneaks out.) Hugh is a bit more of an enigma with some sad parts in his past to conceal, but generally he’s a nice bloke, who tries to take on a bit too much. Which makes him perfect for Annie really!

There are some funny moments in E for England – not just the knickers part, but a crazy dinner party and some funny child moments. I also liked how Rose made the children a part of the narrative – it was realistic Annie having children that needed lots of bedtime stories rather than children who instantly fell asleep when romance was in the air!

This is a realistic novel about both the crazy and good things that happen to everyday people. A lovely book.

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