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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (433 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

When Ellie Kendall loses her husband Jamie in an accident she feels her world has come to an end. But life has to go on and eventually she’s ready for a new start – at work, that is. She definitely doesn’t need a new man, not while she has a certain secret visitor to keep her company...

Entrepreneur Zack McLaren seems to have it all, but the girl he can’t stop thinking about won’t give him a second glance. Why can’t she pay him the kind of attention she lavishes on Elmo, his time-share dog?

Having moved to an exclusive flat in North London, Ellie becomes friendly with neighbour Roo who’s harbouring a secret of her own. Between them, can both girls sort out their lives? Guilt is a powerful emotion.

But a lot can happen in a year in Primrose Hill...

Like a late afternoon rain at the end of a hot summer day, Jill Mansell’s To the Moon and Back lifts the spirit, brings a smile, assails the senses, and reaffirms that love is the greatest of all healers. Like a fresh poured glass of champagne, the story sparkles and bubbles and makes one glad to be sharing a vicarious experience with the lifelike characters.

Even with the heartbreak of death and love deferred, the story has an undercurrent of hope, humor, and a zest for life that sweeps the reader into Ellie Kendall’s world as she deals with life after the death of Jamie, her much-loved husband.

Ellie’s coping mechanism is conjuring up Jamie so they can talk. Even their talks have a special humor that they shared when he was alive. After fifteen months of emotional isolation, Ellie begins the slow process of having meaningful interactions with people again and the reader gets to share this new awakening of the vibrant, intelligent, and caring Ellie.

The many characters that roam the pages of To the Moon and Back help Ellie to find true self-awareness and they enrich her life with fun, purpose, friendship, and love. Tony, Jamie’s father the Hollywood actor who seems the quintessential upper-class Englishman, stays close to Ellie and helps her as much as she will allow. Their shared love for Jamie, their grief and memories bring comfort to them both. Todd, Jamie’s best friend, eases back into Ellie’s life after months of strained feelings. Todd walked away unscathed from the accident that killed Jamie.

Ellie changes jobs to escape her fellow workers who continue to feel sorry for her and seem to tiptoe around as if on eggshells when she is near, seemingly afraid they will say or do the wrong thing. They always look at her with pity. Even though they mean well, Ellie is not comfortable around them, she needs a new start.

In a new upscale neighborhood that Tony talked her into moving to, she meets the funky dressing Roo Taylor who proves to be a good friend even though she is impulsive, wild, and has a bad track record with men. Her type of logic brings fun and action to events as the story zips along. Her idea of doing good-works for her redemption is hilarious.

Zack McLaren, Ellie’s new boss, opens up a whole new world for Ellie. The sexual tension and determination to not renege on their original agreement makes for delightful reading.

The many sub-plots keep the story bubbling with conflicts, heartaches, fun, and emotional rollercoaster rides. Not to be missed are the connection with Tony and the artist Martha, the love/hate relationship of Roo and Todd, the Joe and Kaye Kelligan’s story. Of course, Elmo, the time-share dog does his share to enchant.

Jill Mansell makes the story live and breathe with metaphors like “Fear coagulated like cement in her chest”, “like two balloons inviting a hedgehog along on a night out”, “like a toddler’s out-of-control tantrum”. Her imagery engages the senses and pulls one into the action and her humor makes it all sparkle while her foreshadowing keeps one turning pages to see if what happens is what the hints suggest.

Ms. Mansell is a master storyteller who creates characters with unique personalities that captivate the reader’s imagination and heart. She tells a story that totally engages the emotions while it makes its way to a happy-ever-after. GOOD READING!