Title: The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance
Author: Kirsty Greenwood
Publication Date: 9 April 2015
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Rating: 5 out of 5
Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she’s been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.
Things aren’t going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.
When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.
The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It’s going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .
Thank you to Pan Macmillan
and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance
in return for an honest review.
The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance tells the story of Jessica Beam. Jessica is the ultimate party girl, with a huge phobia of commitment, a propensity to swear and a love of pear cider. All of a sudden, life catches up with Jessica. Her friends have grown up and moved on, whilst Jessica is still stuck in her partying years! Down on her luck, homeless and jobless, Jessica tracks down her estranged grandmother, Matilda Beam, who enlists her help in a project to help save her posh London home. Can Matilda, with the help of her 1950’s Good Women Guides, turn ‘ladette’ Jessica into a proper lady?
This book was, quite simply, a pleasure to read. It is, without doubt, one of my favourite books of 2015.
The story comes to life through some brilliant characters. Jessica Beam is irresponsible, promiscuous, brash and incredibly funny. She is also loveable and, underneath her party-girl exterior, very kind. However, whilst she prides herself on her independence, she has been reliant upon her university friend and landlord, Summer, and is lost when that part of her life falls apart. Jessica’s grandmother, Matilda, is another great character. She is very stubborn and headstrong, using emotional blackmail and refusing to admit to the full extent of her precarious financial situation. There are also some great supporting characters in the form of Dr Jamie, the housekeeper Peach, womanizing scoundrel Leo Frost, manipulative but funny publisher, Valentina, and not to mention the villain of the piece, Summer.
To be honest, at the start of the story I can understand Summer’s frustration with Jessica and why she feels unable to support her anymore. When we first meet Jessica, she is lacking direction and focus and does not seem to take anything in life seriously. I imagine this would be deeply frustrating for Summer, who is stretched whilst trying to both run a business and organise Jessica. However, I quickly lost any sympathy I had for Summer as I read further into the story.
This book is a real laugh-a-minute affair. It is packed full of humour and mishaps. The attempts made by Matilda and Peaches to turn the very modern Jessica into a perfect 1950’s lady provide some incredibly funny moments. I also found Peaches plans to install Jessica as her new BFF to be very humorous.
Inbetween the belly-laughs, The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance also contains some touching moments as Jessica comes to know and love her grandmother, Matilda. Despite being outwardly very different, they are in fact very similar characters, both very stubborn and both still scarred from the trauma surrounding Jessica’s mother many years earlier. Fortunately, whilst the story does delve slightly into the more heavy topic of Jessica’s childhood, in order to explain why she is how she is, the author cleverly does not dwell too much on those aspects, allowing the book to maintain a positive vibe for the reader.
I particularly liked the comparison that the author drew between current day attitudes and morals and those from the 1950s. The book does not criticise Jessica for her promiscuity or drinking and does not take the moral high-ground, but merely shows the reader how both Jessica’s and Matilda’s views are re-molded as they get to know each other.
Of course, there is also an element of romance in the book. Jessica is a total commitment-phobe and refuses to believe that the target of their plan, Leo Frost, is anything but an arrogant womaniser. Why then is she enjoying spending time with him…? Is it possible that she has underestimated him?
I loved all the current references in the book to Facebook, Twitter, Benedict Cumberbatch etc… especially Matilda deciding to join Facebook!
For me, there was nothing about this book that I did not love! The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance is well-written with great characters and packed to the rafters with humour, drama, romance and some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments. This is an outstanding book, highly entertaining and very enjoyable. I would highly recommend it.
About the Author
Kirsty Greenwood was born in Greater Manchester in 1982. She is the founder and editor in chief of Novelicious.com.
Her debut YOURS TRULY sold in excess of 100,000 copies and was a bestseller. Her second romantic comedy THE VINTAGE GUIDE TO LOVE AND ROMANCE is out now!
Kirsty tweets at @KirstyBooks and instagrams at @mskirstygreenwood