It’s official: I have a literary crush on Jill Mansell.
Her writing is quick-witted, fast-paced and entertaining. She’s quirky. She’s irreverent. Each of her characters is infused with personality and charisma, fully fleshed-out and, often, hilarious. And Rumor Has It is awesome.
Londoner Tilly Cole walks into her home one day to discover her live-in boyfriend of many years has “done a runner.” Startled by just how heartbroken she doesn’t feel, Tilly gets away to visit her friend Erin in Roxborough, out in the Cotswolds, for a little fresh air and time to regroup. It’s there that she meets Max Dineen, a local single dad, and his daughter Lou — as well as Jack Lucas, the “tragic widower” whose gorgeous physique competes with his wit and friendly manner in terms of grabbing Tilly’s attention.
Knowing she has little left for her in London and eager to begin a new phase of her life, Tilly takes a job working as Max and Lou’s “Girl Friday,” helping out with Max’s interior decorating business and generally being a pal and helper for teenage Lou. When Kaye, Lou’s mom and Max’s ex-wife, is caught up in a Hollywood scandal and returns to England, Tilly immediately worries her easy relationship with the Dineens will be threatened — and her services no longer required. But it’s not as simple as all that.
In fact, nothing in Rumor Has It is simple — or an easy out, as far as Mansell’s concerned. Bring into the fold the burgeoning love between Erin and Fergus, a man still plagued by his drama queen ex-wife Stella, and a complete cast of extra quirky characters and then just try not to be bewitched by Roxborough. I certainly was.
We all know of my notorious obsession with England, so I gobbled up the British idioms and vocab like a fresh package of Peeps. In all of my far-ranging experience with chick lit, it doesn’t get much more “chick lit-y” than Mansell — and, for that matter, no British chick lit author surpasses her in my eyes. Her writing is so fresh and fun and the male leads so charismatic, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the men in her books.
In Rumor Has It, I was thoroughly charmed by Jack and further entranced by him as more of his story comes out. Tilly is warned off him from the start, told that he’s a womanizer and a heartbreaker — but Jack’s easygoing manner don’t seem to match the image she’s presented. And as she worked to set aside her insecurities and get to know him, I did, too.
What I love about Mansell’s novels are the realistic, fun and funky heroines — ordinary women who aren’t models, aren’t wildly successful, aren’t supernaturally beautiful: just regular people capable of great feeling. Tilly thinks like I do, acts like I do — has ridiculous things happen to her, just like we all do. (Think reeking of garlic breath just as the man of your dreams finally comes in for a romantic kiss. Yeah.) It’s the tiny details that set this and other novels, like Millie’s Fling, apart for me. And I adore them.
4.5 out of 5!