From Notting Hill with Love... Actually

Today I would like to talk about one of my favourite books. I only read it a couple of months ago but once I started the book I found it very difficult to put down. It is the debut novel of Ali McNamara and let me tell you, what a debut! Here is the cover:

She was just a girl, standing in front of a boy... wishing he looked more like Hugh Grant

Our heroine is Scarlett (yes, from Gone With the Wind) who actually looks a lot like Vivien Leigh and loves movies. Well, let's say that she is quite obsessed with movies (minus the quite). Apart from that, she has a normal life, a fiancé, a wedding to prepare, a very good friend and a loving father. However she is not sure this is the life she had envisioned for herself. She would have liked more drama, more romantic scenes and of course a charming prince. So imagine her delight when she is offered to house-sit a mansion in Notting Hill, the setting of one of her all time favourite movies! From that moment, her life starts to look a lot like one of her movies: she meets new fantastic friends, she starts an international search for her long lost mother and she meets Sean who has no interest in romantic movies and drives her a little crazy, but maybe, just maybe, understands her better than her fiancé... What is Scarlett going to do? Live her own movie or finally realise that she has a real life to come back to?

My opinion

To give you my opinion about this book, first I have to admit that Notting Hill is probably my favourite movie (after Star Wars and Harry Potter, of course). I have watched it more than a hundred times and every time I feel the same positive vibe. So when I read the plot of this book I was already sold. I was expecting a good book but not a great book, because you know, it didn't stand a chance against the movie. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be not only a great book, but a fantastic book! 

It's clear that its main focus is on the movies (Apart from Notting Hill, there are reference to a lot of romantic movies like Love Actually, Runaway Bride, Pretty Woman...) and I loved it because I got very excited every time I recognised a scene and I could picture Scarlett perfectly reliving them. But what Ali McNamara creates with this book is not only a list of cheesy scenes from movies but a great plot with a girl who isn't sure that she likes her current life and is just trying to decide if she can have a better life or if she should just settle down. A great plot with a lot of sub-plots like her search for her mother, her best friend getting married in Disneyland (yes, they close the park for them, where do I ask for that?), her new friends with their own problems and ambitions or even how she helps Sean Bond (whose father wanted to call James lol) to believe a little in romance. 

Moreover, Ali McNamara's writing is engaging and infectious. I just wanted to keep reading to get to the end and what an end! Definitely one of the best endings in a Chick-lit novel! I have to admit Scarlett had me worrying until the last minute! But when I finished I couldn't stop grinning! 

And the good news is that there is a second book following Scarlett's life! I finished a couple of days ago so I'll try to post a review for it this week! 

My own obsession with Notting Hill

As I said I have watched that movie more than a hundred times and probably listened to the Elvis Costello's song She a thounsand times. Since watching it I also developed a kind of crush with Hugh Grant and I have watched all his movies. So everytime I have been in London I have spent at least one day in this neighborhood (I actually lived in London for more than a year and I think I went to that area at least twice or three time per month). I love it on weekends when all the antiques stalls get mixed with all the food stalls and the touristy stuff. I think it has a life of its own. Now I can't wait to go back again! Here is a small sample: 

An antique stall in Notting Hill

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