Hi everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins which was a surprise gift from Avon Books! Sadly, I was disappointed by this one.
What the book is about…
Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.
Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.
When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?
An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.
What I thought of it…
I finished this book about a week ago and the more I’ve thought about it, the more annoyed I’ve felt. There are so many things about this book that really frustrated me.
The story did tick along quite nicely at the start, although I can’t say I really warmed to the protagonist. I found her quite selfish and unlikeable. I questioned her every decision and really couldn’t understand her motivations for certain things. The side characters also felt like paper-thin stereotypes and honestly added nothing to the story.
However, things got really annoying around 100 pages from the end when a particular event occurred (that I obviously won’t mention because spoilers). All I will say is that it had me absolutely infuriated! I couldn’t believe what I was reading; I wanted to give Lana a shake. Really, I don’t know what the author was thinking at this point; what kind of message was she trying to promote? The whole thing felt like one pointless cliché after another and, if this hadn’t been a gift from a publisher, I might well have DNF’d this book. I had to force myself to get to the end.
I did like Nancy’s character, the older writer in declining mental health. However, part of me feels like she wasn’t utilised as much as she could have been? She was a little lost at times in all of Lana’s crap and I feel like she deserved more! It was also constantly rammed down the reader’s throat that Nancy was this big feminist icon but then we were never actually shown any evidence of this.
The ‘how to be a hero’ theme was a nice idea – I feel like maybe that should have been the title of the book instead? I don’t really know why it was called The Forgotten Guide to Happiness. Maybe I missed the point but this title felt totally incongruous to the actual story. Particularly with the annoying events I’ve alluded to!
I feel like this one won’t stay with me – and if it does, it will be with feelings of frustration rather than positivity! I feel terrible giving a book a negative review, particularly when it was a gift, but this one just wasn’t for me.
Have you ever read a book where the protagonist completely irritated you?!