PICTURES OF LILY
by Paige Toon
by Paige Toon
Chick-Lit, Contemporary Romance
Pocket Books Simon & Schuster (2010)
Trade Paperback, 394 pages
Source: bought my own copy
Beware! My review may contain some (minor) spoilers!
Lily Neverley moves from London to Adelaide when she is nearly sixteen. That is to say, she was forced to move by her mother who went to live with a new man. Lily hates it and wants to go back to London as soon as possible. But only until her second day, when she accompanies Michael (her mother's new man) to his workplace, a conservation park. Lily immediately falls in love with the wild animals there. And then she meets Ben. Ben who works there as a keeper and is twelve years her senior. They spend a lot of time together when Lily gets a summer job at the conservation park. Lily also spends some time with Josh (Michaels 18year-old and very goodlooking son) and his friends, but it is Ben who gives her driving lessons and it is Ben she slowly falls in love with. But then Ben reveals that he will be leaving soon, he is moving to London - of all places - to marry his fiancé who already waits for him there. Lily's heart breaks when Ben leaves her, especially since she knows that Ben has feelings for her, too.
Lily tries to move on with her life, but she never forgets Ben and ten years later, when Richard, her boyfriend for the last two years, proposes, she realizes that she still is not over him. She loves Richard, but then there is Ben again, in her mind, in her every thought, and, of course, still in her heart. She actually says "yes" to Richard, but she is not so sure after all. And then things get complicated, when she meets Ben again...
First of all: I love Paige Toon's books! Second: I love the Australian setting. So this book had to be a good one! Well, it was good, but not the best of Paige Toon's books for me so far, and I've read them all.
The book is told in first person POV from Lily. It starts with a prologue in which Richard pops "the question". Before Lily can answer, we hop back in time ten years and follow her when she arrives in Australia, when she meets Ben, when he leaves her. This was such a sweet romance, and although nothing ever happens between them, not even one single kiss, the chemistry was overwhelming. Ben really cares for her, you can see it in every move he makes, in every word he says. But he is so much older then her and is trying to be responsible. So, despite his feelings for her - which confuse him a lot - he does the one thing he thinks is right: he leaves. I was already crying my eyes out on page 172!
Ten years later Lily has moved to Sydney, she works as a receptionist and lives with Richard. Who, by the way, is friend and business partner to Nathan. So we meet Nathan and Lucy (from "Lucy in the Sky") again, and Molly and Sam, who now have a baby boy. Richard actually proposes to Lily at Nathan and Lucy's wedding. I really love the way Paige Toon sticks with her characters and I enjoy it very much to meet the heroes from her previous books again to see what they are up to now. (The young Lily even has a poster in her bedroom which shows "Fence", the boy group Johnny Jefferson - from "Johnny Be Good" - was in at that time - so nice!)
Lily meanwhile has given up almost everything she loved to do when she was young. She has buried her camera in a cardbord box in her Mum's flat (oh, yeah, of course, her Mum has moved on, she never stays with one man very long and has left poor Michael long ago). Lily didn't go back to the conservation park any more after Ben was gone, she has given up on her dream of being a veterinarian someday or a wildlife photoprapher. She hasn't even taken one single photo in the last ten years. But she acts as if her life was okay and as if she was happy. Until the memories of Ben haunt her, and her thoughts about what could have been. Ms. Toon provides us with a very deep insight in the mind of a woman who is in love with two men, she is desperate, she doesn't know what to do once Ben appears in her life again. Her desperation, her sadness practically leaks from the pages. Ms. Toon has done a great job there, this part of the book really made me sad.
Richard and Ben are both very lovely guys, therefore Lily's decision was a tough one. Of course, Lily was stalling, as if to wait that someone makes the decision for her. In some points I didn't understand Lily's actions, but it was ok for me.
One thing that was a bit disappointing for me, was Ben's performance in the second part of the book. Didn't he even think about that Lily might not be free any more, once he met her again? Why didn't he declare his love for her any time sooner? Why didn't he search for her, when he came back to Australia? Okay, so I had some minor issues with Ben, but still he was a totally loveable character. Although I think the two of them should have talked it out a little more.
One thing I missed was the fun part which I have enjoyed in "Lucy in the Sky" and in "Chasing Daisy".
The end of the book was satisfying, and left me in tears again.
Cover and back-blurb:
I really like the covers of all Paige Toon books, it's great how they match, although I think they are a bit too girlish, a bit too much into chick-lit and it makes them look like a light-weight beach-read when in fact, they are not. (In my opinion Paige Toon's books are so much more than chick-lit, they are an emotional rollercoaster-ride and they really touch me.)
The back-blurb is great, it doesn't reveal too much and it really makes you curious.
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Another very entertaining, very emotional book by one of my favorite authors, which I finished in two short days, because I simply could not put it down.
"I've been talking to you inside my head for the last ten years."