'I'll Take New York'
Publication date: 4th December 2014
'Have you ever given up on love? When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain. Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York. At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships. But the city has other plans . . .'
This is the first Miranda Dickinson novel i’ve read, and it certainly won't be the last. What a treat! It's a 'will they, won't they' romantic novel, but it keeps you hooked from beginning to end and guessing throughout!
The novel centres around Bea, a bookshop owner in Brooklyn who has recently split from her long-term boyfriend and Jake, who leaves his home in San Fransisco to return to his New York roots after his wife files for divorce. Bea and Jake meet at a party and they form a new friendship, bonding over the fact they have both just come out of long term relationships and forming a pact: they are now done with relationships completely. They set about exploring the city in which they live, visiting tourist attractions, hidden gems the city has to offer and going out to eat. They form a close bond, meeting each others friends and families, and helping each other when difficult situations arise. As time goes on, feelings inevitably develop... but they made a pact for a reason, and both decide they have to stick to it.
The journey the two characters go on is one easily recognisable for anyone that has been unlucky, or let down, in love. There were many things I loved about this book but my top 3 points would be:
- The location
- Character voice
- Bea's conversations with her Grandmother
So, point 1: the location
The book is set in New York and Brooklyn, and Miranda has done a stellar job in describing the location - you really feel as if you have been transported into New York! I loved all the little touches, like how each chapter is titled by where the character is at the time (including street names) and how if a character was travelling somewhere, either on foot or in a taxi, there would be very detailed descriptions of the route they were taking to get there.
You can really tell how much time and research has been put into making sure this novel is exact. I’ve never been to New York myself, so I wouldn't be able to say if something was wrong, but you can tell there’s been an awful lot of time spent to get the detail exactly right, and it's worked! Below is an extract from one of my favourite location descriptions:
“Until she had moved to New York, she’d only known about the famous interior of New York’s major train terminus from the guide books and friend’s photographs: when she’d visited for the first time she had been blown away by the classically ornate exterior of the station, looming proudly above the corner of 42nd street and Park Avenue. It was grand in every sense of the word”
There are some really great places in this book, and Miranda's detailed description ensures you have an image in your mind anytime a character heads somewhere new. My favourite place was Bea's bookstore - straight away I built up a picture as to what I thought it would look like, and it’s the kind of store I’d like to visit! I particularly enjoyed the way Bea and Russ decorated the store for different seasons or events, like Christmas or Celia’s book launch. Straight away your imagination was working overtime to picture the store in its re-vamped way.
Point 2: character voice
The novel is duel-perspective, being told from both Jake and Bea's point of view. I enjoyed the balance of a female and male narrative throughout the book. This is the first romantic fiction novel I've read that has a first person perspective from a male point of view. It made it more interesting, to see what Jake was thinking as well as Bea, and I felt it gave you a bit of an insight into the male mind.
Point 3: Bea's conversations with her Grandmother
Throughout the book, Bea and her English Grandmother keeps in touch by writing letters and emails to each other. Her Grandma sends her packages that contain her letter along with a book, highlighting a quote from it that is relevant to Bea's current situation. This form of communication provided an interesting alternative to what could have been pages and pages of dialogue. It was also a clever way for the reader to find out what Bea's current thoughts and worries were.
As I said before, this is the first Miranda Dickinson novel I've read. I know that this is a 'kind-of-but-not-really-a-sequel' to her other novel 'Fairytale of New York', it re-visits some of the locations and characters that were so popular in her debut novel - Kowalski's the florist, Rosie and Ed (Jake's brother), but through meeting a bunch of new characters. I'll Take New York stands in it's own right - you don't need to have read Fairytale of New York to know what's happening.
Now she’s on my radar, Miranda Dickinson is here to say and I can’t wait to get stuck into another book of hers - I have 'Take A Look At Me Now' and 'When I Fall In Love' downloading on my Kindle as I type!