Although chick lit tends to get a bad rap from some reading communities, I am a big fan- while I love to jump into an in-depth historical study or biography, sometimes I just want to escape and don’t want to have to think too hard about anything. Chick lit can be anything from a humour book to a tale of overcoming a death or crisis to a trip- I tend to gravitate towards chick lit that is more on the entertaining side than anything else, usually someone in a physically different place and a new career, with a little bit of romance. These are four of my favourite fun and entertaining chick lit books!
The Honeymoon Hotel, Hester Browne
The Bonneville Hotel is the best-kept secret in London: its elegant rooms and discreet wood-paneled cocktail lounge were the home-away-from-home for royalty and movie stars alike during the golden age of glamour. Recent years haven’t been kind, but thanks to events manager Rosie, it’s reclaiming some of its old cachet as a wish list wedding venue. While Rosie’s weddings are the ultimate in romance, Rosie herself isn’t; her focus is fixed firmly on the details, not on the dramas. She lives with a professionally furious food critic and works tirelessly toward that coveted promotion. But when the hotel owner appoints his eccentric son Joe to help run Rosie’s department, she’s suddenly butting heads with the free spirit whose predilection for the unconventional threatens to unravel her picture-perfect plans for the most elaborate—not to mention high-profile—wedding the hotel has ever seen, a wedding that could make or break not only the hotel’s reputation, but also Rosie’s career.
Hester Browne- one of my absolute favourite authors! She’s not always the first author brought up when people discuss chick lit, but her Little Lady Agency series is great fun, and her stand alone novels are just as entertaining. In The Honeymoon Hotel, Rosie brings you into the craziness of wedding planning and event management while trying to keep her somewhat selfish and oblivious boyfriend happy. I think that all of us feel like we are spread too thin at some point(s) in our life, and real life doesn’t typically have the hilarious moments that literature does. Her characters are often fairly sarcastic and snarky, and I can appreciate that as someone who tends to depend on sarcasm to get through the day… Also, one of the reasons that I pick HH as one of my favourite Browne books is the role that the hotel itself plays in the novel; it really is another character, and it makes the story that much more immersive. (Plus I’m just a sucker for anything set in the UK…) This story is slightly slower moving than some of her other novels, but it makes it more enjoyable to read on a quiet afternoon. (Hygge, anyone?)
The Hating Game, Sally Thorpe
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.
Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.
Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.
This is an odd choice for me, as there is a fair amount of sex in this novel. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t tend to move a story along for me in any way.) Sex aside, I loved following along on this workplace battle- I think that all of us can imagine a scenario that we might be competing for a promotion at work, and that we might do whatever we have to to try and get it. Being that I’m in the same demographic as Lucy and Joshua (at the beginning of my career and trying to establish myself), I think it is fascinating to realise that we may have to fight that fight repeatedly, although I would hope not the relationship part of it… It is a fun battle of wills set in the workplace that illustrates just how difficult it can be to connect with someone, as there is often something standing in the way! And as an opposite to Honeymoon Hotel, The Hating Game is set in a not-named city that lends itself well to story– you can see yourself wherever you are living it! I am excited to see what is next for Sally Thorpe, as this is a fairly impressive debut novel…
Highland Fling, Katie Fforde
After a fight with her boyfriend, a business trip to Scotland is the perfect diversion for Jenny Porter, who works as a virtual assistant for a financial executive. Dispatched to assess a failing textile mill, Jenny instead finds herself determined to save it at any cost after befriending its charming employees. That cost might just be her sanity as she stretches her resources, patience, and compassion to the outer limits.
As she gets to know the colorful Dalmain clan, Jenny just can’t say no when asked to help run a mobile food stand, save the family business, put an overbearing matriarch in her place, rekindle an old romance, or throw a dinner party for sixteen on short notice. Then there’s the problem of being attracted to the dashing yet abrasive Ross Grant, who has a way of showing up just when things seem almost sane and manageable.
The majestic Scottish highlands, covered in purple heather and dotted with sheep and llamas, provide a dramatic backdrop while Jenny tries to pull everything together in time to save the mill and figure out her increasingly complicated personal life, in this delightful romantic romp.
Oh, Katie Fforde, another author that doesn’t necessarily get the acclaim that she should. Almost all of her novels are set in the English or Scottish countryside, and definitely capitalise on the “escape” motif, certainly allowing us as the reader to escape along with her! I think that I speak for a lot of us when I say that helping save a Scottish castle and estate from ruin doesn’t seem like a job, so it’s an extra shot of escapism and vacation from life. Although this is the oldest book on this list, from 2002, it still works now- the magic is still there, and will make you want to grab a throw and candle and ignore your life for a few hours. (Once again, hygge. I’m noticing a trend…) Although the family on the estate are little annoying at points, they provide a fantastic counterpoint to Jenny and make you love her even more. The love interest/relationship is really in the background in HF, which is a nice change for chick lit- it’s only about Jenny! And bonus points, if you enjoy Highland Fling, Fforde has several other novels that you can dive straight into to keep the escape going.
The Boy is Back (Boy, #4), Meg Cabot
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot comes the sweetly humorous story of a man who has to face his past in order to find his future.
Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back…
One post. That’s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet.
Then again, it’s not like Reed’s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn’t the only one who says it’s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana—namely Reed’s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers.
But Reed hasn’t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade.
Until that post on the Internet. Suddenly, Reed’s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won’t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He’s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.
Becky’s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she’s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed—which hasn’t been easy, considering he’s their hometown’s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he’s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him—until his family hires her to help save his parents.
Now Reed and Becky can’t avoid one another…or the memories of that one fateful night.
Can the quirky residents of Bloomville bring these two young people back together, or will Reed and Becky continue to allow their pasts to deny them the future they deserve?
This warm, thought-provoking book, told entirely in texts, emails, and journal entries, is as much about the enduring bond of families as it is about second chances at love, and will delight as much as it entertains.
Meg Cabot has been one of my favourite authors for a while; I was sucked in by the Princess Diaries series in my teenage years, and have periodically checked in throughout the years. While I am hit and miss with her adult series, The Boy series is a lot of fun! This is actually the fourth book in the series, but you don’t need to read them in any particular order. I grabbed this in an airport, which usually doesn’t lead to quality books in my case, but it kept me glued to it for the entire flight. Written in a modern epistolary format, we not only follow the relationship between Becky and Reed but also the relationships and trials of their friends and family, really giving a fleshed out feeling to a format that often leaves you wanting more (and not in a good way). Cabot is a talented writer and slowly draws the past forward without leaving you feeling like you are stuck in a flashback. I’m not at the age where I have to worry about my parents, but I think that having several different generations featured in this book makes it a worthwhile read for any generation. Plus, I spend a lot more time wondering what my life would look like recreated through the written records I leave behind- would it resemble the life I know?
What book would you recommend to someone looking for a fun escape?