Saturday, 27 September 2014

Review: The Out of Office Girl by Nicola Doherty

Through a massive stroke of luck, editorial assistant Alice Roberts finds herself on a plane to Sicily to work on the autobiography of Hollywood mega-star and bad boy Luther Carson. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and no-one is going to stand in her way, least of all Luther's bitchy co-star  Annabel or his arrogant agent Sam. But in such a beautiful location with such beautiful people, Alice can't help but feel out of place. With Luther off gallevanting and reluctant to spill his life-story, Alice needs to step up to the challenge and make this summer one to remember!

After spending some time in Italy this summer, I'm finding myself drawn to books set there. Call it a remedy for the post holiday blues; reading about it means I can pretend I'm still there! I got myself into a bit of a rut with chick-lit so I decided to avoid it for a while, but when I read the blurb for this novel I knew that I had to give it a go! I'm so glad that I did. Once I got into it I raced through it in a couple of days. Alice Roberts is very likeable, and I found myself rooting for her to get a happy ending in both her work life and her love life. She is an ordinary girl thrust into the world of the extraordinary. The plot is pretty predictable, but this is no bad thing - it's nice to read a book once in a while where you know what direction things are heading. I've known books in this genre to ramble on for way too long and I quickly lose interest, but this one is paced just right.  It was also nice to have an epilogue at the end of the novel, far too many of my reviews have featured me complaining that we don't find out how the relationships work out!

All of the supporting characters are well-defined - for the physically perfect celebrities and Italians Alice meets at the villa, right down to her flatmate Martin who appears for little more than a few sentences. Neither Sam nor Luther are my book-boyfriend type but they were both great characters, and each loveable in their own way. The Idyllic setting of Sicily is so well described you can picture it vividly - it is a character in itself and I so wish I was there!

Through Alice's work, the novel gives an interesting insight into the publishing industry; it seems so ruthless! Similarly, through Luther's dictation of his autobiography to Alice we see a side of celebrity culture that is far from rosy. One thing that particularly struck me was his candid talk on the 'selfie' phenomenon: 'I miss autographs... when they just take a snap of you on their phone, and they don't even speak to you- it's like they're at the zoo and you're the monkey.' This is so true in today's society, and I've never thought of it quite that way before!

5/5 stars: Escape to Italy with this smart and funny novel. The Out of Office Girl is the perfect summer read that you won't be able to put down!

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