21 April 2012

To the Moon & Back by Jill Mansell


Ellie wiped her eyes with the back of her hand; sometimes she didn't realize she'd been crying until the tears slid off her chin and dripped down her neck. She missed Jamie so much she sometimes wondered how she'd managed to carry on, but it had been fifteen months now, and one way or another she had. Maybe she was going a bit batty, conjuring Jamie up and having imaginary conversations with him, but it was her coping mechanism and she wasn't ready to give it up yet.

Jamie, Ellie's husband, is killed in an auto accident. Fifteen months later, Ellie still has not come to grips with his absence. Ellie’s father-in-law visits her and is horrified by how uninhabitable her flat has become (chavs and mildew) and persuades her to move to a much nicer flat in a much nicer neighborhood, Primrose Hill. One change begets many – Ellie quits her old job, starts a new one, makes a friend, reconnects with an old one, and (eventually) finds new love.

To the Moon and Back was a sweet, gentle novel and Mansell wrote Ellie’s loss and discovery of new love in a way that never felt maudlin or hackneyed. Indeed, while there were many relationships and many kinds of love depicted in To the Moon and Back, they all felt quite real and developed in ways which seemed quite natural. Zach might have felt a frisson of romance the first time he saw Ellie, but it took the entire length of the novel for that relationship to develop. (One couple does starts with a romance novel cliché -- they instantly fall in love and into bed, but they’re a nontraditional couple with a relationship that is anything but cliché and so I give them a pass).

I admit the last few chapters were bit too cutesy and rushed for me, but I was still charmed by To the Moon and Back and look forward to reading Rumor Has It and Staying at Daisy’s whenever they come back to my library.

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell (Sourcebooks, 2011)