Thursday, July 25, 2013

Romantic Comedy in book form

From Notting Hill…With Love...Actually by Ali McNamara

As a lover of chick-flick films, I was struck by this title when I saw it on the shelf. I immediately brought it home with me, and I read it in a matter of two days.

This book is about Scarlett, who resembles Vivien Leigh, best known for playing Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. Her mother, a film lover, gave her that name upon seeing her dark hair and green eyes at birth. At six months, Scarlett’s mother left her and her father, and he blamed it on her obsession for the cinema and the unrealistic expectations films gave her.

Twenty-three and a half years later, Scarlett and her father own a popcorn machine business, wherein they supply the machines for cinemas around England. This fuels Scarlett’s own obsession for movies, and she is constantly daydreaming about different romantic movies and actors, infusing them into her otherwise boring life. Scarlett is engaged to David, a steady, DIY-obsessed, sometimes boring, businessman whose family owns a chain of cinemas. The two of them are set to be married in April, two months after Scarlett’s best friend Maddie is married. Scarlett is unsure though, and just kind of in a rut. As a way to escape this, Maddie arranges for Scarlett to housesit for a month in a prominent neighborhood in Notting Hill, a la The Holiday. Naturally, Scarlett jumps at this chance, and takes it as an opportunity to prove to her father, fiancé, and best friend that she can have movie moments in real life.

Upon arriving in Notting Hill, Scarlett obsesses over all of the places noted in the movie by the same name, and thus bumps into Oscar, a flamboyant shop owner, who introduces her to new friends and listens to her life story. Through Oscar, Scarlett also meets Sean, her neighbor and new friend. Through a series of movie-worthy events, the two end up going on a weekend away to a wedding, traveling to Paris, and embarking upon an important search. Scarlett and Sean are very much opposites, but they joke and become fast friends, earning the jealousy of David, and the confusion of Scarlett.

This book is about a lot of stuff. Scarlett goes in search of her mother, tries to prove herself right about movie moments, and finds herself in a triangle of sorts. I was surprised at multiple occasions, impressed by her dedication, and unsure of where the story was going many times.

Since there was so much going on in the book, some parts suffered for lack of detail, but overall, I closed this book with a smile on my face, and that says a lot. It was a fun, quick read, with lots of Rom-Com movie references, which I loved.

~Cailey W. 

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