British novelist Orla Hart has a problem — and Millie Brady is the solution. After her latest work of fiction is absolutely trashed by the media for its formulaic quality, Orla decides she needs to come up with an “authentic” storyline about “real” people, and after Millie pulls her from the edge of a cliff — literally — the plan seems to fall in her lap.
With check in hand, the recently unemployed Millie agrees to share all the details about her quiet life in Cornwall, England to become fodder for Orla’s new creation. All seems well until Orla decides Millie’s “real” life isn’t nearly interesting enough and, as Millie has no other romantic prospects, begins to plan parties and other set-ups where she might meet an eligible bachelor. Dismayed but willing to concede that she might need some help with her love life, Millie goes along with some of the plans . . . until things begin to heat up with Hugh Emerson, an unlikely prospect who swiftly steals her heart.
Jill Mansell has such an easy, breezy and fun style, reading Millie’s Fling was a pleasure; the plot got more and more interesting as time went on. After leaving her job at a travel agency, Millie takes a job as a singing gorilla — literally — and at that point, I decided I had definitely never read anything quite like this book! Millie’s best friend and housemate Hester is charming for all her indecision and trouble, and I loved the friends’ interactions. And, of course, I adored Hugh — a likeable character despite how he tugs on Millie’s heart strings.
Though Millie is definitely our main character, Mansell writes in third person — we get to spend time in the heads of everyone at some point. Typically, I’m bothered by this — I love having a narrator skewing my perspective on everything unfolding before me! But I actually thought it was fabulous how easily we could slip in and out of the minds of all our characters and see life through their eyes. Each of the many characters in the book felt real and fleshed-out — not a mere sketch of a person with no back-story. Orla herself was larger-than-life and fun, and I found myself rooting for she and Millie both.
The only drawback to the story was, to me, the heft of it — at almost 500 pages, I occasionally found myself wondering where this all was going and, yes, becoming a tad bored in the middle. Still, it ended perfectly — and my obsession with British culture was satisfied by the many English references and slang! If you’re not a fan — or not comfortable — with the Britspeak, it might get a little confusing and/or frustrating . . . and that is my only caution.
Mansell is a very talented writer who definitely tapped into the issues of love, work, friendship and moving on. I actually laughed out loud at several points in the book and closed it with a grin on my face. Millie’s Fling didn’t change my life, but it was a totally delightful way to spend a weekend! Mansell will be my new go-to girl for fun, light women’s fiction with an English twist.
4 out of 5!