My Rating: 5/5
My first Mike Gayle book was his debut novel My Legendary Girlfriend that he first published back in 1998. I only read his book around a month or so ago and was very unimpressed. It certainly wasn't the writing; it was clear that he had the talent needed, but the main character in that book irritated me beyond belief. It seemed that the more I read the more I disliked him. I think for that reason Mike Gayle just didn't stick in my mind as much as he should have.
With his newest books hitting the shelves last week, and there being a difference of nearly 14 years between books; I figured this would be a good way of seeing if I liked his books. When I got the book I didn't realise the concept. When you pick the book up it has a lovely pink cover and you open the book and start reading all about Helen and her Hen Weekend. However, it took me a little while to realise that you flip the book over, and a nice blue cover appears and you can read the Stag weekend part of the book. As the reader, it's up to you where you start. This alone I thought was so original and an absolutely brilliant idea.
I decided to start with the ladies and found myself completely immersed within the space of two chapters. Helen and all her friends were easy to like and their Hen Weekend to the Peak District was far from quiet. When it appears that Helen's ex Aiden Reid is also staying at the hotel it doesn't take long for things to get complicated.
The ladies Hen Weekend I read in half a day but by which point it was way past my bedtime and I figured I would start the boy's Stag weekend the next day. I devoured the second half of the book in half a day too and thoroughly loved every bit of it. Phil and the boys hop off to Amsterdam and we see them get up to your typical Stag weekend antics which had me chuckling. What I loved the most is that you know the reasoning behind both Phil and Helen's thoughts and it makes for a truly brilliant read.
One of the best things about the book was the fact that it was a little open ended. There wasn't a nice neat little ending that had a bow wrapped around it; the reader gets to decide what happens when they both get home. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart, after finishing this book I now realise why Mike Gayle has such a loyal following.
I think his first book just didn't sit well with me because of the main character. But this one had everything and more, great characters, lots going on and was so enjoyable to read. Overall it was an absolute pleasure and I am now really looking forward to reading some more of his stuff.