I’ll admit it — I was completely hesitant to read this book. But not because I worried that I’d grow tired of reading a novel consisting entirely of e-mails, or my apprehension to start another British chick lit book after I’ve been spending time with a glut of them lately.
Oh, no — I was hesitant to start Holly’s Inbox because I’ve been completely obsessed with the website! And if I actually paged through the whole book, getting the whole of Holly’s disjointed life at one time, what would I have to look forward to as more of our dear receptionist’s personal messages were revealed online?
Well, I needn’t have worried — because ripping through the book was just as fun as quickly flipping through the site. The premise of the story is that Holly, a British twenty-something, has just taken a job as a receptionist at a big banking group in London. Holly’s Inbox is exactly what it sounds like: a voyeuristic peek at someone else’s e-mail. Though we know “Holly Denham” is the funny, quirky product of one man’s (yes — man’s!) imagination, the novel is just like you’d expect the personal correspondence of a woman who has been unlucky in love, has hostile negotiations with coworkers and loves her hilarious friends would read.
Holly navigates the treacherous waters of an office romance and blooming friendships as an unexpected new coworker — one magnetic guy from her past — crops up. Each snippet of information comes courtesy of Holly’s frequent exchanges with her best friends Jason and Aisha or co-receptionist Trisha, whom Holly eventually wins over. Messages come in and out from all sorts of other characters, too, including Holly’s well-meaning but delusional parents, shifty brother and Internet-savvy grandmother in Spain. I absolutely loved the back and forth between Jason and Holly, delighting in all of his sage “advice” as things began to really heat up between James Lawrence and our Holly, that little tart!
Our heroine is likeable, funny, irreverent and — most importantly — realistic. It became painfully clear to me that I could absolutely see myself in Holly, particularly in the moments she’s obsessing over how to phrase a message or waiting for a response. Though the book tops out at more than 600 pages, don’t let that bother you for a moment — picking up from where I’d left off on the website, I read the entire thing in two nights. To say it’s a “fast read” is an understatement, but you’ll have an excellent, funny time going through. It was pure escapist fun, and definitely one of the most enjoyable, light books I’ve read in a while!
And, of course, I began obsessively thinking about everything that’s in my own inbox at work . . . and what someone would learn about me from opening up Outlook and spending a few hours paging through my messages. My guess is quite a lot.
Needless to say, I’m deleting my “sent items” as we speak!
4 out of 5!