I would say that Jill Mansell is my favourite chick lit author. I've read every North American release of her books and just finished the latest - To the Moon and Back.
Ellie Kendall's husband Jamie was killed in an auto accident. They were desperately in love and Ellie still has not come to grips with his being gone. In fact she 'sees' Jamie almost every day and talks to him. When her father in law insists she move to a decent apartment in Primrose Hill, she reluctantly agrees. Maybe with a change - new home, new job and new friends, she can start to believe Jamie is really gone and move on.
As always, it's impossible not to love the lead character in Mansell's novels. Ellie is warm, loving, completely guileless and just a little bit quirky -someone you would love to have as a friend. Her new friend Roo has been searching for love in all the wrong places. And Ellie's new boss Zack, isn't looking for love, but it finds him when be meets Ellie. The supporting cast of To The Moon And Back are no less engaging. I especially enjoy how Mansell includes an older couple into her stories, often grappling with the same issues as her younger characters.
Mansell's writing is always entertaining, filled with lots of humour, but she also works a serious theme into the story. This time it's dealing with the loss of a spouse. It's handled with both candor and thoughtfulness, never detracting, but only adding to a great book.
There are no great surprises in Mansell's books. Lots of missed cues and misunderstandings and many times I want to give the characters a bit of a shove in the right direction. But I can't and I wouldn't - because Mansell has the direction already planned - a happy ending. And a happy reader.
Read an excerpt of To The Moon And Back. You can find Jill Mansell on Twitter.