Stella is a strong, independent, single Mom of stroppy teenage daughter Lipsy who is constantly being extremely difficult, and she has worked hard to provide a lovely home with the best of everything for her daughter. She works for her best friend Paul Smart at his estate agent business called Smart Homes and on who she used to have a huge crush on but she says she is so over that now. When Stella’s house burns down, she moves in with her mom who can’t stop spending money and when everyone says that it’s nice that she’ll get everything shiny and new through her insurance, finally breaks the news that they had no insurance cover. She has no alternative but to rebuild their home completely from scratch.
Paul and Stella have a fabulous relationship, flirty but safe in the knowledge that they both love the way it is now and love their individual lives and neither need a romantic involvement to spoil the way they are. When an ex of hers appears unexpectedly, she questions her feelings for him and for Paul.
Stella starts to make a list of things that she can’t live without. What and who is on the list?
This was an absolutely delightful read. I felt like I was in the plot myself and could easily have been Stella. She was a pleasure to know, a proper Mom wanting the best for her family. It was written well, flowed easily and made you want to keep on turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.
I loved the dynamics in the relationship between Paul and Stella, and Stella’s sense of humour was fantastic. I could really relate to her. She was a really genuine character with really good morals and principles. She wasn’t afraid to work hard or get her hands dirty and was determined that she would make a nice home once more for her daughter even though her daughter was being incredibly badly behaved towards her. All of the characters were brilliantly created and you felt like you knew each and every one of them inside out.
There were tons of hilarious laugh-out-loud moments in the book, lots of occurrences of Stella finding herself in situations that weren’t what they looked to be and this all added to the twists and turns and how the story develops in the book. It ended perfectly, exactly how I wanted it to!
This was a really fun, feel-good and extremely entertaining read and I’d love to learn more about these wonderful characters. Joanne has an incredibly wonderful easy to read writing style. I absolutely did not want the book to end. I’m sure that Joanne Phillips will be giving some of the big names in the chick lit world a run for their money and I would love to read more of her work. I was quite surprised that this was her debut novel as she writes so fabulously.
Joanne Phillips lives in
with her husband and four-year-old daughter.
She has been published in
Writers’ Forum and Freelance Market News, has ghostwritten lots of non-fiction
books and has also had success with online articles and ghost-blogging. She won a Turner Maxwell prize in 2008, and
was recently longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize and shortlisted for
the Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle short story competition.
She is currently studying Creative Writing with the Open University, and works and loves her job as an indexer. She has another two novels up her sleeve, I’m delighted to find out that one is a follow-up to Can’t Live Without and the other is a chick-lit/crime crossover novel.
Find out more about her at her website