Maggie Alderson’s latest novel, Everything Changes But You, is a perfect example of how chick lit can be done eloquently, and with a little bit of substance.
Hannah and Matt (trust me, it was weird to read this) are a happy couple, with two beautiful children, living in London. Living the life right? Who the heck doesn’t want to live in London? Sure it’s fracking expensive, miserably cold and full of English people (I joke, I joke…it’s now full of Aussie expats, let’s be realistic here), but it’s LONDON.
So why aren’t they happy? Well, having two young children in a pokey apartment doesn’t help; which is compounded by the problem of Hannah working a million hours as a beauty editor for a boss that doesn’t appreciate her. So when they get the opportunity to move to a lovely country home, you’d think they’d jump at the chance, right? Except Matt, a ‘budding’ songwriter, can’t stand anywhere but the big smoke. Uh-oh.
Then we have Marguerite and Charlie, Hannah’s parents, who live in said small country town, living out their retirement. Only problem is, as lovely as the two of them are, Charlie has an awful drinking problem, which might just tear them apart…
Lastly, we’ve got Ali, a cute mid-twenties Aussie who moves to London in search of something more. However, she has to deal with the brunt of some awful scars (both literal and metaphorical) that she’s had to bring from home.
There is a time and a place for some chick lit, in the same way that there is a time and a place for some Orwell (when you’re feeling down in the dumps and you need to remind yourself that things could be worse, we could be living in a totalitarian society ruled by an omnipresent leader who also unfortunately will now remind us of bad reality television). On the beach; a lazy weekend; after a hectic week at work, all of these suffice.
The only problem is, there is some really, REALLY crap chick lit out there. Jackie Collins, I am squarely pointing my finger at you. Yes, love and romance and cute boys (alas, only in our imaginations) are fantastic, but there’s only so many sub-par sex scenes a girl can read before she has to return to the elitist world of the classics (where, of course, no sex scenes occurred) for fear that her mind may otherwise turn to mush.
Honestly, it’s a hard world us literary snobs endure.
So, as previously mentioned, this is what I love about all of Maggie Alderson’s books. They aren’t tosh. They’re easy-reading, good fun, and contain highly attractive characters, yes, but they’re also well-written. Alderson, an English writer who has since moved to Australia (there’s a common theme with all of her characters as you’ll soon realise), knows her stuff, and that’s what she sticks to. As an editor of numerous well-known women’s magazines, as well as now being a contributing columnist to The Saturday Age, she clearly has experience. And it shows.
While Everything Changes But You isn’t my favourite book of hers, it was still a fun and enjoyable read. There weren’t any ridiculously, over-the-top story lines or love interests, it was merely a book about people trying to deal with life…except you know, with a bit of fashion and beautiful people thrown in.
If you’ve got a lazy weekend planned (or you don’t, but want to procrastinate whatever you do have on), I would suggest picking up anything by Maggie Alderson, just to give your mind a rest.
Have you read anything by Maggie Alderson? Are you a fan of chick lit? Overrated? Underrated? Let me know!