Review: The List by Joanna Bolouri

Phoebe Henderson may be single but she sure doesn't feel fabulous. It's been a year since she found her boyfriend Alex in bed with another woman, and multiple cases of wine and extensive relationship analysis with best friend Lucy have done nothing to help. Faced with a new year but no new love, Phoebe concocts a different kind of resolution.

The List: ten things she's always wanted to do in bed but has never had the chance (or the courage!) to try. A bucket list for between the sheets. One year of pleasure, no strings attached. Simple, right?

Factor in meddlesome colleagues, friends with benefits, getting frisky al fresco and maybe, possibly, true love and Phoebe's got her work cut out for her.

*I received a copy through NetGalley/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

This book is so British. From the writing style, the humour, the characters, to the overall plot line. I know the author is Scottish, but by British I mean within the UK. Seriously the difference with American writing style is so very clear and it seems it's been a while since I've read such a book. To be clear while a lot of the elements are present, I wouldn't call this one your typical chick lit.

With the writing style and the format of the story, which is in short diary style, this made for a pretty quick read up until thirty or forty percent in. By then I was wondering why the story wasn't nearly finished and it kind of started to drag. The quirkiness of the main character loses its appeal after a while and well the decisions she starts to make aren't really funny anymore, but rather worrisome.

While the setup seemed bloody brilliant and the list is actually very interesting, somewhere along the way I got lost. With the focus very much staying on the list constantly, I found it very much lacking in the possible romantic connection that was supposed to lead to through love. I might have applauded Phoebe in her sexual awakening, though it was a bit contradicting with her saying in the beginning that she never had sex out of a relationship to suddenly being okay with having sex with multiple people during sometimes very short spaces of time. Also it contradicts with her low self esteem, that suddenly she is all for it to being naked in front off sometimes strangers.

I don't know if it was the format of the story, but it was difficult connecting with Phoebe as we just get to read about things that have happened and we don't get much into the nitty gritty of it. Also we don't really get to know the supposedly love interest, that all stayed superficial to me, so that ending came out of the blue for me. Though I was expecting it about thirty to forty percent in, but then all the rest happened and left me wondering why on earth these people want to be together. Let us not forget that for most of the book Phoebe was still hung up on her ex for some reason, that didn't make a lot of sense to me since it had been over for more than a year.

So overall not what I was expecting and while I did like the writing style, the focus just didn't feel quite right to me. I would have liked to have seen more romance, to make that part believable and it all could have easily been a lot shorter. While I get that the list was the main point, the way it was handled still felt a bit superficial to me. Like Phoebe's goal was to complete that list and be damned all the rest, making me wonder if she actually really enjoyed it all.   


The Author
Joanna Bolouri worked in sales before she began writing professionally at the age of thirty. Winning a BBC comedy script competition allowed her to work and write with stand-up comedians, comedy scriptwriters and actors from across the UK. She's had articles and reviews published in The Skinny, the Scottish Sun, the Huffington Post and HecklerSpray. She lives in Glasgow with her daughter.

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