Sometimes what you need to read is some good old-fashioned romance, and few people do it better than Sarra Manning.
From Diary of a Crush through Guitar Girl and now her new novel It Felt Like a Kiss, I’ve never read anything by Manning I didn’t love.
Ellie Cohen seems to have it all – a great job at an art gallery (even though her boss can be demanding), great friends (even if they don’t always get on they love her), an amazing mum (who can be a bit too hip), and a boyfriend. He’s not so great. And neither is her dad, rock star Billy Kay, who doesn’t acknowledge her existence.
When her boyfriend who turns into an ex tells the papers Ellie is Billy Kay’s daughter, her life turns upside down. Suddenly, the nation thinks she’s everything she’s not, and the hot guy she bumped into at a festival turns out to work for her dad.
It Felt Like a Kiss is a great, fun, funny, and sometimes sad novel. The narrative flits between Ellie in the present day, and her mum’s romance with Billy Kay. The latter is filled with tension, since as readers we know from the beginning that the relationship is doomed, so every step Manning moves closer to that conclusion had me filled with the kind of dread you only experience when you know it’s going to end badly.
Meanwhile Ellie’s story almost fulfils the opposite trajectory – she too, is falling in love, like her mum did, but I had much more hope for her that it would end well, even if it seemed to be falling apart most of the time.
Ellie is a great character. She might be the daughter of a rock star, but I found it easy to relate to her, with her stresses over her job, her experiences of London and her fun friends. Importantly, Ellie wasn’t perfect, even when she tried to be. She acts irrationally at times, loses her temper, and jumps to conclusions without knowing the full story, things we all do.
Her mum, Ari, is super cool, but has her faults too. I found myself wishing for one kind of ending for her, which didn’t happen. What did happen was better though, and I wanted to whoop and cheer for her during her big scene at the end.
And then there’s David. Lovely, lovely David, who is exactly the kind of romantic lead you want in a book. He’s a bit Mr Darcy, a bit Mr Bingley, a bit Mr Wickham (only the best bits of the latter). And he’s also a bit of a mess. Guys like David don’t exist in real life, but that doesn’t matter in the pages of a book.
I won’t tell you how it ends, but I will say that the final scene reminds me of the ending of one of the greatest rom coms ever made. That ending isn’t the only film-like bit of It Felt Like a Kiss – in fact, I’d love to see this book realised on screen.
If you’re looking for great characters, a fun story and a teensy bit of angst, It Felt Like a Kiss is for you (and me).
How I got this book: From the publicist (thanks @madstoy)
•It Felt Like a Kiss is released on January 30.