One? - Jennifer L. Cahill
Reading Challenge Category: Free Copy from the author in exchange for review
It's London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi, and One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4. 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 28 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.
I was asked to review this book by the author; it is her debut novel and the start of a series. I feel like a bit of a dufus when I read the blurb I read mid-noughties as the 1900s! So I was expecting a period drama, so I was immediately confused when the book started in 1979! However, once I realised my mistake, I settled into what turned out to be a book set in ‘my’ era! I finished uni in 2000 and was embarking on the real world at the same time as the characters in this book. I even went for an interview in 2001 in London, but I wasn’t as brave as Zara and ran away, screaming at the thought of living in the big city! It was so lovely to return to a time when things were a lot simpler; a physical A-Z book was the only way to get around without relying on your iPhone to get you from A to Z! We do rely way too much on technology and the internet, and it’s only been 14 years since this book was set in 2005. It really made me think about how life has changed since I’ve been a ‘grown-up’. The book follows a group of characters, but not too many that you get confused. I felt like it was just the right amount of people. Especially as the chapters are not dedicated to one person each and it interchanges between their thoughts and dialogue throughout a chapter. With too many characters, this could have gone terribly wrong, but fortunately, it worked well with the few characters we were getting to know. I empathised with Zara the most, because like I said I wasn’t as brave and could see how intimidating everything would have been to her. Starting afresh in the biggest city in the country. I think I would have cried every five seconds, as well. Penelope was a delightful character as well, as her story progressed, it gave me a little anxiety as I could see she was about to make the biggest mistake of her life. I would have liked to have been inside Charlie’s world a little more, so I am hoping we get to see more of him in book two. In fact, I’m hoping book two follows all of these characters again, as there is still so much to see from them. The book, overall, was light-hearted and fun. It really captured the essence of the time period and was really enjoyable to read. I didn’t want it to end! I’m really looking forward to book two!