Title: Billy and Me
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Rating: 4 Stars
Dates read: 22 Mar 18 – 24 Mar 18
Publication date: 23 May 2013
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Sophie May has a secret.
One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.
But then Sophie unexpectedly meets the gorgeous Billy Buskin – a famous actor with ambitions to make it to the top. As they begin to grow closer, Sophie finds herself whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world.
After years of shying away from attention, can Sophie handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? How much is she prepared to give up along the way? And is their love strong enough to keep them together against the odds?
Charming, heart-warming and utterly romantic, Billy and Me is an unforgettable story that will completely capture your heart.
Billy and Me is the debut novel of the brilliant Gi Fletcher. Wife of musician Tom Fletcher, and Mum to Buzz, Buddy, and Bump Fletcher, she is funny and if I am honest, I follow her on multiple social media platforms. I hadn’t, however, ever read any of her written works so I thought I would start at the beginning.
It’s not a bad debut novel by any means. In fact, I actually really quite enjoyed what is a fluffy contemporary romance novel. Gi writes with British humour, and utilisizes quaint British villages and customs to rewrite a tale that is as old as time. The story jumps between a quiet village and bustling London as the relationship between the characters grows, the places themselves supporting the ebbs and flows of character developments in a really clever way.
Sophie is quite and friendly and definitely middle aged before her time. I like her. She is pretty and down to earth. She works hard, befriends the local people irrespective of age, and embraces the oddities of her fellow townspeople. She has built a life for herself following some difficult childhood experiences and finds a kindred spirit in the form of baker and cafe owner Molly. I find Sophie to be a principled person in what becomes an increasingly uncomfortable world. I admire her desire to keep supporting herself despite her partner’s success, I respect her devoted support of Billy, whilst retaining her relationships with friends and family. I understand her want to fit in with his world but can’t help feeling for her, it’s never nice to not feel like you fit in and to find yourself constantly comparing and second guessing.
Billy on the other hand is self assured in appearance, yet self doubting underneath. Sophie’s normality and natural beauty catches his eye, and his undeniably drawn to her. Whether it’s that he is able to be his true self, or whether he can just be a calmer version of himself, he clearly enjoys spending time with her, dedicating effort and time to getting to know her family and Molly. I don’t like aspects of Billy’s life, I don’t like how much he takes Sophie for granted as her works on his play, and I don’t like how he changes himself to fit in with his actor friends and cement his place in their world. He has huge reality checks and he works hard to maintain all aspects of his life, sometimes he succeeds and sometimes he fails, but overall he is actually quite a likeable character.
Molly is the shining light of the novel. She is funny and she is trusting. I hate the thought of her suffering, or being taken advantage by anyone, and find myself thinking about her in the same way you would a grandparent. She is the glue that holds everything together, and her relationship with Sophie is so pure that I can’t help loving them. She is also the kindest and the best example of her fellow village friends. The customers and fellows are hilarious with their constant chattering and gossiping, the epitome of the cliche that women gossip before news has even been announced.
You’re probably wondering why, if I liked it this much, I didn’t review it higher? The answer has no relation to writing quality, in fact as debut novels go it’s pleasant and well done. No, it’s me. I know we’ve all heard the ‘It’s not you it’s me’ line before, but this really is the case. You see for all the lovely interactions, the principled job maintenance, the bickering and the big city moments, the book is quaint. There is 100% nothing wrong with quaint and twee, it’s just not me at all. I’m less Austen more action and sadly this book is just a little on the quaint side to pull in the highest rating.
This hasn’t, however, stopped me from buying her books. I liked the writing style and thought Gi created some likeable and believable characters. Unlike many authors, she hasn’t fallen into the trap of having someone dislikeable or abhorrent to fill a gap, and that is a refreshing find in this genre.
Overall I liked it, but didn’t love it. It did make me want to read more of her work, but not jump out of my seat and recommend to those nearby. Does that make sense?