Sorry this is a day late- it’s final recital week for me! (The rest of the week may be irregular too).
I recently read Giovanna Fletcher’s Billy And Me in the space of three days (and I definitely could’ve read it quicker if I had time) but then I was feeling lazy so all I wrote on Goodreads was this:
“Loved it! It was so easy to read and I had to read the last quarter practically in one go. I loved Billy and felt very sympathetic for Sophie. I’d also love to have a teashop like that.”
I think it’s now time to write a proper review of this fantastic book!
Billy And Me is about Sophie, a young woman from a small village in Kent who holds a dark secret from her past which stopped her from moving on and meant she’s stayed at home with her mum and worked in a tea shop for eight years since most of her school year went off to university. One day, a film crew begins filming a new version of Pride & Prejudice in the village and Sophie inadvertently meets its Mr Darcy and teen heartthrob, Billy Buskin. Needless to say, romance ensues but Sophie struggles to fit into his rich and famous world.
I’d seen all the hype building up around the book before its release thanks to Gi’s blog tour and various videos leading to some brilliant reviews, but I was still sceptical about the book as anything more than an incredibly fluffy chick lit book- surely it couldn’t be that good. But it was! I was hooked, and from the sounds of it so were most of its readers in the week since it’s been out (at the time of writing, 42/46 reviews on Amazon are 5 stars).
The key is the book’s wonderful characterisation. Sophie is endearing, delightful and only occasionally annoying in her constant self-doubting and criticisms (but a lot of us feel this way towards our friends anyway). I really wanted her to be happy, and it was impossible not to feel sympathetic for her towards the entire book- but especially the end. Equally, Billy was basically the perfect man, with boyishly good looks and limitless charm whilst also being ridiculously sweet and making me swoon with everything lovely he said to Sophie. From the first moment he teased her and then ran around looking after her after a panic attack I knew I was going to love him for the rest of the book. I probably would have forgiven him long before Sophie did…
Tea-On-The-Hill seemed like the perfect hangout to me (although maybe with a few less gossipy old ladies…) and it reminded me of the types of places I love stumbling across both in York and on the Isle of Wight (and anywhere else, of course!) I won’t ruin Molly’s storyline, but she was a truly wonderful woman and my heart broke.
What was so clever about the book was how it was so realistically written- it truly was a world that crosses over between the simple life that most of us know and the celebrity ways that we’re all so curious about. It’s not easy to mix such two different ways of living for the two main characters in one book, but it’s done successfully here.
I only gave the book four stars on Goodreads but that was me being picky more than anything: I truly loved the book- it’s the best of this genre I’ve read in ages- but there were moments that annoyed me slightly and ways that a few things were written that took me out of it slightly. Mostly though, Billy And Me is an excellent debut novel, and since Gi is already underway with her second, the anticipation mounts!