I've had this book for awhile and thought I'd finally get around to reading it in honor of the big snowstorm: let's celebrating by reading a big long book! While it started off well (I even though of checking out her other books), I soon saw that it's too long, needs a lot more editing and actually should have ended a lot sooner.
Elle dreams of becoming a big wig in the publishing industry. We watch as she struggles to make her way through university and up the ranks of the lowest rungs of the publishing ladder. Throw in a couple of love affairs, family issues and a young woman finding herself and you have this book.
Initially I found Evans' style really engaging. And I think she is a really good writer (enough to keep me interested in the story). But wow did the book desperately need editing. I would have been fine with a chick-lit-ish book that's also a coming of age tale plus some family drama. But overall it got disappointing. I predicted a certain character's death and was disappointed to find I was right. The story actually resolves itself a lot (or should have) 100 pages sooner. The text overall needed more tightening and reduction especially towards the end. The last romantic Elle has in the book seems more like a plot device rather than anything else (she keeps sleeping with the wrong guys but we don't quite see how she ends up with the "right" one).
It's a pity because there are aspects of this story that I could really identify with: the family drama, the career struggles (I've known people trying to get the leg up in the publishing industry), etc. But I didn't really feel Elle developed as a character. The author has a slightly annoying habit of fast forwarding over a period of years where some of these are relevant to the plot (such as Elle moving to the US post 9/11), I increasingly got the feeling it was a lazy way of showing how Elle was supposedly maturing as time marched on.
I will give her credit for not quite making this tie in with the title. With a title like 'Happily Ever After' you might think this is a happy go lucky, all loose ties done and up by the end of the book. It was nice to see that no, not quite. Although Elle gets some resolution in some aspects, she acknowledges that maybe others (like whether she'd ever like her sister-in-law) won't actually come to fruition. Some people might be annoyed that it's not quite "happy" but I appreciate the realism that it's not always so.
It's not terrible but I regret buying it. It'd make a good bargain book to read for a long plane ride or if you're stuck somewhere and need to be able to dump this book for space/weight issues in the luggage. Maybe library instead.