Title: Confessions of a Forty Something
Author: Alexandra Potter
Published: April 28th 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Nell Stevens’ life is a mess.
When her business goes bust and her relationship with it, Nell’s happy ever after in California falls apart and she moves back to London to start over. But a lot has changed since she’s been gone. All her single friends are now married with children, sky-high rents force her to rent a room in a stranger’s house and in a world of perfect instagram lives, she feels like a f*ck up. Even worse, a forty-something f*ck-up.
But when an old work contact lands her a job writing obituaries, Nell meets the fabulous Cricket, an eighty-something widow, who is also adjusting to her new life and they strike up an unlikely friendship. Together they help each other heal their aching hearts, cope with the loss of the lives they had planned, and push each other into new adventures and unexpected joys.
Because Nell is determined. She’s going to completely turn her life around. This time next year things are going to be very different. First, though, she has a confession . . .
‘Hi and welcome to Confessions of a Forty-Something F##k Up, the podcast for any woman who wonders how the hell she got here, and why life isn’t quite how she imagined it was going to be.’
Romantic comedy novelist Alexandra Potter returns with a brand new sharp, in touch and genuine novel in Confessions of a Forty Something. Following the poignant and relatable journey of a lead that you just can’t help but root for, we bear witness to Nell Stevens’ disaster movie of a life. As Nell strives to gain control of her career, finances, love life and friendships, plenty of laughs and moments of clarity come to light in this wholly enjoyable contemporary fiction title.
Facing a downward spiral all too quickly, Nell Stevens must deal with the demise of business, her impending marriage and the loss of her life in sunny California. Back home in the UK, Nell is flat broke, a newly single woman and homeless. Worse still, all Nell’s friends seem to have moved on and settled down into marriage and motherhood. Nell feels left behind and drastic measures see her taking up residence in a small flat in a shared house arrangement. Nell’s life feels like it is going absolutely nowhere fast and the perfect social media feeds she follows makes her feel even worse. But things slowly begin to look up for Nell, who is determined to gain the upper hand over her changed life arrangements. Nell begins a new job and she becomes acquainted with the enigmatic Cricket, an eighty year old with an infectious zest for life. Despite their age difference, Cricket and Nell bond over their shared loss. This brings about a solid form of support and friendship, along with some interesting outings! Nell begins to see that her life isn’t so bad at all, in fact, she might even be a successful forty something!
Well, what a sheer surprise this book turned out to be! It just goes to show that sometimes you should not judge a book by its genre classification. I haven’t read an Alexandra Potter book before, but I was aware of her writing. I boxed Potter in the chick lit category and my not so wonderful experiences of this genre of late immediately had me offside. But I decided to give Confessions of a Forty Something the benefit of the doubt and I started to read the Prologue. The opener was definitely readable and worth continuing and I finished the book with a big smile on my face!
Confessions of a Forty Something has a great structure. The novel follows a year in the life of Nell Stevens. The book is divided in terms of months of the year and significant moments in time in Nell’s life, such as New Year’s Day, Sunday Lunch, Easter Monday, Mothers Day and so on. I really enjoyed this format and I think it worked well to situate the reader in the unfolding story. Interspersed between the narrative are references to Nell’s entertaining podcast, along with her notebook entries on what she is grateful for each day. There are also snippets of conversations via communication channels such as Whats App. I found these inclusions funny, authentic and enlightening.
Nell is a truly wonderful lead and I genuinely enjoyed following her life story. It was great to oversee Nell’s ups and downs, which was very true to life. I despaired with Nell as she dealt with a number of common problems faced by forty somethings, there were funny moments, but also areas of pure understanding. Nell is loveable, well-drawn, relatable and a little flawed. I could sympathise with Nell’s lack of confidence and sheer dissatisfaction with the direction of her life. It is easy to feel sorry for Nell, but at the same time we want her to develop some resilience and inner strength to rise above it all.
Alexandra Potter is an experienced novelist of over eleven romantic comedy titles. I think this shows in her writing and this particular novel. Potter does a good job with the love story aspect of her new novel. We see a possible love interest develop through friendship and support, we cringe as Nell is taken for a ride with a poor love match and our hearts break as she works to understand what went wrong with fiance. Alongside the love story is the wonderful unlikely friendship that sparks between Nell and Cricket, an elderly lady who is just a marvelous character! If only we had more Cricket’s in our life to guide us! Potter also explores some family dynamics as Nell must deal with a crisis that hits close to home. This was carefully handled by the author, again linking in to the overall message that this book seems to convey we must embrace life and do with it what we can, with what we have.
A life affirming, insightful, savvy and meaningful contemporary fiction piece, I am very happy to send my full recommendation to Confessions of a Forty Something by Alexandra Potter.
Confessions of a Forty Something by Alexandra Potter was published on 28th April 2020 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Confessions of a Forty Something, Alexandra Potter, visit here.
*I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.