For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
A Life Less Ordinary. Victoria Bernadine
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I’m always on the search for a contemporary romance that has that something different, something to set it out form the crowd, the thousands available on kindle. Oddly over the last two weeks I’ve chosen two with very similar themes, and yet published years apart. Though part of the premise is similar, they play out in different ways, and I’m just commenting on coincidence not making plagiarism allegations before anyone jumps to that conclusion!
This book features Zeke as a blog writer and the wonderful Irrepressible You by Georgina Penney has Ben doing a blog also. Both are male leads, likeable men, with a cynical side to them which makes their blogs about real life quite sharply satirical, bordering on almost cruel at times – and yet neither character intends harm by it, they just look at readerships stats and put any consequences to the back of their mind. That’s where they’re similar, but in this book Zeke joins Manny on her once in a lifetime six month road trip.
Rose is throwing caution to the wind, after being turned down one too many times for promotion of a job she’s been doing competently for ages….and on the spur of the moment she walks out, sells her home, cashes in her pension and makes plans. This co-coincides with Zeke’s blog, disparaging older ladies, comparing them to washed up, given up has-beens, which was incredibly popular and controversial. His boss and wife to his best friend TJ, Leah, has seen Maddy’s ad for a travelling companion and sets him up to do it, and blog about it. Of course his satirical views on the sometimes innocent and naive Manny actions provoke a storm of controversy, sending the blog viral after the first couple of months. But Zeke finds his view of Manny changing and keeps desperately reminding himself she’s the disparaged, older lady and not the sexy, sensuous person that keeps snicking into his mind….
As the story continues we learn more about the characters, their families and problems, and see how what they’ve been through have shaped their ideas and influences. Manny has always been the responsible one, looking after everyone and she still seems to what to take everyone and help them through their problems. Manny’s Misfit Toys ( reminds me of the kids video Island of misfit toys every time I read it). Zeke always been one to walk away when things look like they aren’t going to work, and as he says once he’s gone that’s it. No looking back. Then there’s Manny sister Daisy and her marriage problems, her foster sister Rebecca and her problems with daughter and granddaughter, TJ and Leah’s problems in starting a family…I love a book with real people and real problems, and add those to the characters Manny picks up along the way and there’s a fabulous cast in this book. Of course the delicious, suave, and humorous Harvey ( and yes I thought of the rabbit too…) has to have a mention. His character was just perfect, he was there when Manny needed him and full of spot on advice – everyone deserves a Harvey in their life.
Of course everything is perfect til it isn’t, and poor Manny know nothing of the blog, its spiralling fast and you can just see that the sh. is about to hit the fan. Poor Manny had been so open and trusting, and by then Zeke’s view of her had changed so much ( very very much!) but he couldn’t undo the harm he’d done.
Its a book that takes us on a journey with them, meeting new people, falling in love, sorting out families and their problems. I loved it, and the way it all played out. Its true how people generalise in the way Zeke did and what’s funny isn’t so once its related to real people, and their feelings…Everyone involved seemed to learn and grow here and the ending…perfect 🙂 Priced at £4.02 for 371 pages its a book that’s long enough to let us really explore the characters and problems that arise.
ARC provided via Book Enthusiast Promotions
Stars: Four and a half.
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008.
Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess.
She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.