Published by Penguin 2013, 423 pages, £3.85
I’m at my parent’s house, spending some days away from the grinding city. Over the past two weeks I have read a few books; YA fantasy, regency romance, political criticism… all of them fairly intense. It was rainy and I wanted something light and cosy. So I went to my TBR shelf and picked up Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher (married to Tom from McFly- I know I couldn’t help plugging that in, even though it has nothing to do with her writing abilities, but for some reason it made me feel comforted. I
am was a total McTween). Anyway, the book did deliver, but don’t expect too much. It was like a fluffy cupcake; sweet, airy, easily digested.
The story follows Sophie May, a regular nice and quiet gal working at a tea-room, in rural Kent. She also has a tragic past that is revealed in flashbacks. Basically she has put her life on hold, is too scared to take risks and leave her vulnerable mum. Billy Buskin is a famous actor, who used to be a a teen heart-throb but is determined to make his career ‘serious’ now he’s all grown up. He is filming Pride and Prejudice (you’ve guessed it ding ding ding, he’s Mr.Darcy) and becomes a regular at ‘Tea-on-the-hill’.
Its love a first sight. Sophie gets swept up into his mad world of acting, which is full of mean managers and vindictive leading ladies. You really do feel for her when the insecurities, loneliness and paranoia starts to kick in. Then you become interested to see how the couple steer across some rocky problems.
There is something homely about Fletcher’s writing. I think it was probably the British references; Marks and Sparks, lemon drizzle, lippy, cardie… However, there were a lot of cliches that made me cringe, one example being a flamboyant gay character thrown in. Sophie and Billy’s relationship didn’t really feel real. There was no heat or tension developed between them. They were basically ‘going steady’ from day one ( I promise I wasn’t born in the 50s). Billy’s gorgeousness is constantly emphasised, but it wasn’t enough to make the reader fall in love with him. He was like a cute puppy, constantly cheerful and upbeat. There were some swoon moments, but not enough to get your pulse racing.
These lukewarm emotions invade most of the plot. Another sad crisis strikes Sophie at the end, but it just wasn’t sad enough and was something I saw coming.