Title: Living my best li(f)e
Author: Claire Frost
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 23 July 2019
This heart-warming and funny novel is the perfect balm for the insta-weary mind – get ready to shatter the illusion that is #LivingMyBestLife
Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single. Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, Bell is struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January. Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is,not who she thinks she should be.
Enter Millie, a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife. But as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLie than #BestLife. With the internet trolls continuing to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.
It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?
After a few weeks of non-stop crime thrillers, Living my best li(f)ewas a breath of fresh air and a much-needed dose of light-hearted humour!
How many of us have opened up Facebook/Instagram, usually out of either boredom or habit, and been left with a feeling of inadequacy or envy after seeing posts about an amazing experience, a fabulous holiday or the most perfect of relationships? How many times do we find ourselves sitting on the sofa holding our mobile phones and counting the ‘likes’ and comments to our new photo/post rather than being out having new experiences or making new memories? How many times have we missed seeing something happen right in front of us because we’re too busy trying to record/photograph the moment to share on social media? It is possible (or maybe probable?) that we’ve all got a bit too used to viewing life through social media, rather than experiencing it for ourselves. This makes Living my best li(f)e very relevant today. Itexplores society’s obsession with social media and demonstrates how it can be used to distort reality – what we see is not necessarily what is real and true. It is very relatable and very real.
The writing style is uncomplicated and easy-to-read, with the chapters being split between the two main characters, Bell and Millie. This allows us to experience the tale from two different angles – from the person advertising the perfect life and from the person who is looking in on that perfection. There is an easy flow to the book that kept my attention and helped the story move along at a good pace.
I enjoyed getting to know each of the main characters. They are both likeable and genuine, and within a similar age range to myself, which always makes me identify more with a character. Both women are strong, single and in need of something more in their lives. The supporting cast are an eclectic and interesting mix, although I felt that I didn’t really get to know them that well. Millie’s interactions with her ex, Louis, were sadly quite believable. Here is a man who does love his son and who is happy to contribute to his upbringing, and yet he fails to realise that the responsibility is a regular and continuous one. Turning up once a month to see his son, cancelling plans to fit in with his work/social events, and ‘flashing the cash’ for treats but failing to pay regular boring maintenance – these are simply not the hallmarks of a responsible parent. And yet, he doesn’t do this out of spite nor a deliberate intention to avoid his responsibilities. He’s not a horrible person. He simply doesn’t realise how much his actions impact everyone involved.
The story is centred around a local community centre. This is where the different characters meet and where friendships are born, as the community comes together to try to save the centre. It is a somewhat predictable plotline, however the strength of the story lies in the characters and their interactions. The entire book has a wonderfully warm feeling to it – it is absolutely a feel-good tale!
This is a fun and heart-warming tale about community, friendship and the importance of ‘keeping it real’ (a great moral to the tale) rather than filtering and staging our lives to maximise the ‘likes’.
A great debut novel from Claire Frost and a big thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a proof copy of the book for review.
About the Author
Claire Frost grew up in Manchester, the middle of three sisters. She always wanted to do a job that involved writing, so after studying Classics at Bristol University she started working in magazines. For the last 10 years she’s been at The Sun on Sunday’s Fabulous magazine, where she is Assistant Editor and also responsible for the title’s book reviews. She can mostly be found at her desk buried under a teetering TBR pile.