by Harriet Evans
Started: 10 September 2016
Finished: 11 September 2016
It’s been a while since I last picked up a Harriet Evans book so I was really looking forward to reading Happily Ever After. However I was left quite disappointed with the novel which I wasn’t expecting.
The novel focuses on the life of Eleanor “Elle” Bee from when she was a child with her parents on the verge of divorce to when she is a successful career woman. We see her grow from a young socially awkward bookworm, to a confident and driven editor who has no time to read for pleasure. She spends her time editing other people’s happy endings, but will she ever have her own?
For most of the novel I really struggled to like Elle, there were times when I found her adorable, likeable and just the right amount of feisty. But then there were many other times where I found her quite frustrating, who would run away from her problems or just pretend they weren’t happening. Sometimes it would be understandable but other times you would just want to see her tackle them head on. Personally, I didn’t find many of the characters in the novel particularly likeable, he only two that stood out to me were Tom (and I even had a love-hate relationship with him) and Felicity (although you don’t get to see a whole lot of her). Although I didn’t like Elle’s family, I would have liked to have seen more of her family, as I found them and their interactions interesting.
I think part of the reason I struggled to like Elle was the way the novel was structured – each chapter took place in a different year, sometimes with fairly large gaps between the last. This made it so you didn’t see Elle develop as such, you saw her change. The Elle you would read about in one chapter sometimes felt completely different from the Elle in the next chapter. This wasn’t just true of Elle but other recurring characters too. Despite the gaps between chapters and changes in the characters, you would be aware of what prompted this change/development but it didn’t feel like it was happening organically as it would have done had you seen the situation fully unfold rather than jump to the next one.
As there were gaps anywhere between a couple of months to a couple of years between chapters, this meant that the chapters themselves would vary in size but would generally be quite long. Personally, I struggle to read longer chapters as it can begin to feel overwhelming and a bit of a chore at times. However this is just a personal preference for me and the plot itself was interesting and something different was always happening, albeit it was a little predictable at times.
Overall, the novel wasn’t bad and the plot was enough to keep me reading. It wasn’t my favourite Evans book however it hasn’t put me off buying more of her books in the future.