Book review: ‘Holly’s Inbox: Scandal In The City’ by Holly Denham

Life seems to be looking up for Holly Denham. Her adorable boyfriend, Toby, is suave and attentive; her receptionist position at a high-powered bank in London keeps her busy while also providing ample opportunity to socialize. But when Holly (finally!) earns a promotion, there’s someone eager to tear her down: Tanya, a snobby fellow manager with her sights set on Toby. And she’s ready to tackle Holly’s confidence to the ground just when her other relationships become tenuous. Can she hold strong?

Through a series of daily emails, Holly’s Inbox: Scandal In The City — the sequel to the  highly entertaining Holly’s Inbox — reveals far more about a group of characters than you’d expect from a tome filled with only electronic correspondence. Holly is as charmingly disheveled as ever, though trying to put a hold on her partying ways long enough to earn some clout with her employers.

This series’ charm comes through its ability to tap into that voyeuristic side in all of us. If a coworker you may or may not like stepped away from their desk, leaving Outlook or Gmail open in full view, would you be able to resist the siren call of snooping? I’d like to think I could, but who knows. That same urge to sift through someone’s medicine cabinet, book collection or purse is what makes Holly’s Inbox so compelling.

Unfortunately, what worked so well for me in the original lost a bit of its luster in the sequel. Reading Holly’s emails in the first novel felt like a fresh endeavor, but here? Well, I feel like I’ve read it all before. My curiosity was satisfied. Favorite characters like well-meaning best friends Jason and Aisha have returned, along with fellow receptionist Trisha, but newcomers like Tanya felt less like real people and more like archetypical “villains” — and people I wouldn’t actually know. Plus, the juxtaposition of Holly advancing in her career while still acting ridiculous in her personal life — drinking herself into oblivion; generally acting like a debauched teenager — didn’t quite add up for me. If she’s such a dynamo on the job, how can she be such a screw-up on her own time?

Maybe that’s not unusual. Maybe I’m expecting a little too much from a fun, light-hearted read. I didn’t consume this one as quickly as I did the first, and found myself less enthused at Holly as a character than I once was. Still, fans of British chick lit who also enjoy the epistolary style will probably enjoy Holly’s misadventures. If you’re new to the Denham books, I’d recommend starting at the beginning — and then maybe we’ll decide our girl isn’t beyond redemption after all.

3.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 1402241143 ♥ Purchase from AmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

Book review: ‘Holly’s Inbox’ by Holly Denham

hollys_inboxI’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!

ISBN: 1402219032 ♥ Purchase from AmazonPeek in Holly’s Inbox
Personal copy obtained through BookMooch