Jessica Beam is a girl who knows how to party. Only lately she’s been forgetting to turn up for work on time. Or in clean clothes. Down on her luck, out of a job and homeless, Jess seeks the help of her long-lost grandmother.
Things aren’t going well for Matilda Beam, either. Her 1950s Good Woman guide books are out of print, her mortgage repayments are staggering and her granddaughter wears neon Wonderbras.
When a lifeline from a London publisher arrives, the pair have an opportunity to secure the roof over their heads – by invigorating the Good Woman guides and transforming modern, rebellious Jess into a demure vintage lady.
The true test of their make-over will be to capture the heart of notorious London playboy Leo Frost and prove that Matilda’s guides still work. It’s going to take commitment, nerves of steel and one seriously pointy bra to pull this off . . .
Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan for providing me with an ARC via NetGalley. The buzz round this book has been pretty epic, I think it was probably the most anticipated book of the year so far for chick lit fans. There wasn’t a word I’d read about it that wasn’t absolutely raving about how brilliant and funny it was, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy and find out what all the fuss was about!
It didn’t take long to work it out, as I was laughing out loud right from the get-go. Jessica Beam is my hero. She is just down right hilarious. Yes, she is frustrating, childish and at times selfish, particularly at the start, but there’s a certain determination and zeal about her that was hard not to be drawn into. Summer is Jess’s “best friend,” roommate and boss, but at heart is nothing more than a totally vindictive cow, who has used Jess when it suited her. When Jess suddenly finds herself jobless, friendless and homeless, she remembers about the grandmother she’s never met, and – after a quick Google – is overjoyed to discover she’s an author of the best-selling Good Woman Guides from the 50s; she must have some cash to spare for her long-lost granddaughter, right?
Unfortunately, Matilda Beam is not quite the star she once was, with her books out of production and her husband no longer around to take care of the accounts, things aren’t going great for her either. Appalled at Jess’s undignified looks and language – not to mention the lack of a husband at her age! – Matilda takes in her wayward granddaughter, and a lifeline for both of them suddenly arises when a top publishing house wants to put a modern spin on the Good Woman Guides – with Jess as the Guinea Pig. As much as the idea of being a perfect 50s housewife makes Jess want to gag, she’s in no position to refuse and reluctantly agrees, and, oh my, how the hilarity ensues. The victim is selected: the publishers ex, Leo Frost, who happened to recently make a mockery of Jess at a book launch, so she’s undercover getting their story and payback all in one.
Let’s just say, a life of graceful obedience does not exactly come naturally to our Jess, and sometimes the harder she tries, the more everything goes tits-up. But no matter how badly she screws things up, I couldn’t help but love her all the more, it was so wonderful watching her develop throughout the story. Matilda and her assistant, Jess’ new BFF Peach, were equally brilliant, and I just wanted to jump right into the pages and live it with them all.
I seriously could go on and on about how brilliant and fabulous and hilarious and wonderful and ALL OF THE AWESOME ADJECTIVES this is, but honestly, just buy it, go buy it right now, and you will discover for yourself why this book is not to be missed.