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Author: Jennifer L. Cahill
Genre: Chick lit
Published: 21st June 2018
One? is the first book in a contemporary fiction trilogy, looking at finding ‘the one’ in the modern world and how relationship models are shifting in the most innovative period in living history. The story starts in 2005, and spans ten years following the characters from the challenges of their twenties into their thirties.
It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual. Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At twenty-eight she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming. Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness. Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.
(Taken from Goodreads)
Chick lit is one of my favourite book genres so I was excited to read One? by Jennifer L. Cahill because of that, but also because it’s set in London – a place I live close to and have worked in on many occasions. The city vibe is strong throughout the book which is great, and anyone who has lived in or visited London will appreciate the focus on the fast-paced, hectic culture of the capital that is so different from elsewhere in England. Cahill is very good at getting that across, and those that haven’t visited London before will learn a lot by the end of the book!
The story focuses on several different characters, dipping in and out of their lives as they face various struggles of London life and love in the ’90s. Although seemingly simple on the surface, the book explores societal expectations of women and the pressures of dating life within a metropolitan lifestyle – issues that still affect people today. Zara and Penelope are the most focused on, however I would have liked to have explored more of Charlie’s life and also Gerry, who is introduced later on in the book, as both of these characters were really likeable. This is especially true for Charlie – he was one of my favourite characters yet towards the end his story disappeared, and I missed having him around. I think Penelope was my favourite character as I appreciated the exploration of her will vs. society’s, and I thought Cahill did a good job of portraying her relationships with the other characters (especially her best friend George, who is a real crux for her throughout the novel). I was really invested in Penelope’s story and it was quite a rollercoaster of a ride as she moved from one chapter to the next.
Although I enjoyed the story I didn’t get on with the writing style quite so much as it was very “tell not show” which I personally find hard to get into. Much of the story is narrated through the use of dialogue and internal thoughts – while these can be powerful literary devices, I would have liked a bit more narrative description for balance. It was still an easy read, without feeling heavy or a chore at any point, however it did feel a bit repetitive so I’d love to see Cahill expand her use of descriptive narrative for the next two books.
Despite this, One? still has a lot to offer – the story is involved and intriguing and you’ll find it hard not to find a character to relate to, from the ruminating London newbie Zara to the confident and successful Alyx that’s missing what he really wants in life. I loved the cover which I felt portrays the story within, and after an ending I was completely not expecting (unusual, for me) I’m interested to see how the story develops in the rest of the trilogy.
If you’d like to purchase One? for either Kindle or as a paperback then you can do so here:
I moved to London just after graduating from business school and life has never been quite the same for me since. I still think it is the most amazing city in the world. I write contemporary fiction and try to capture the essence of a place and time in my books. Above all my aim is to make you laugh and hopefully learn a little, as you recognise yourself, your friends and your exes in my books.
(Taken from Jennifer L. Cahill’s website)
What’s your favourite novel set in London? If you liked this review then please like and pin! You can also check some of my other chick lit and women’s fiction book reviews here: