Sunday, 11 October 2015

Book Review: A Parcel for Anna Browne by Miranda Dickinson

The gift of a lifetime?

Anna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn't exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. 

But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more . . .

When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift - one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her - and her life starts to change.

But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?

So anyone that's a regular reader of Little Northern Soul knows I'm a HUGE fan of Miranda Dickinson's... she's up there with some of my favourite authors. On the day A Parcel for Anna Browne was released I raced to the shops to get my mitts on a copy. I think I need to mention here that I absolutely adore this cover, It's my favourite of hers so far and looks absolutely beautiful on my bookshelf.

It's always a concern with my favourite authors that their latest book isn't going to live up to expectation or be as good as the previous one. A Parcel For Anna Browne is also Miranda Dickinson's first novel for her new publishing house, Pan MacMillan (her previous novels were published under Avon) I felt those stakes were even higher. However, if anything, the change has been good for Miranda, A Parcel for Anna Browne is a fantastic story that I thoroughly enjoyed, and will be recommending to anyone that will listen for the forseeable future. This story firmly reminds you why Miranda is a bestseller and a firm favourite, not just for me, but for many people across the country, if not the world. (wow, that was fairly dramatic wasn't it!?)

The concept for this story is wonderful, really unique and different. It follows Anna, a woman who lives in London and is pretty happy with her life. She has a home she loves, a job she enjoys and a circle of friends. One day, a parcel arrives for her, unannounced. The mysterious package contains a gift of a beautiful silk scarf. Wearing the scarf increases her confidence, and she begins to wonder who is behind the parcels. More and more parcels arrive, each containing beautiful gifts that boost Anna's confidence and make her reflect on her life... was she as content and happy as she thought?

What I loved about this story is the journey you go on with Anna. She is a lovely, down-to-earth character that you immediately warm to. Although her life is fine, the parcels make her want more, to become ambitious and do what makes her happy. I loved that, seeing her grow and develop and strive for more. I thought it was an unusual element that the changes within her were down to the parcels and the beautiful gifts that were nestled between the wrapping. 

Writing strong, relatable characters is definitely one of Miranda Dickinson's strong points, and A Parcel For Anna Browne is brimming with them. I loved her work colleagues and the team behind the reception desk, who were funny and showed off Anna's kind and friendly personality. My favourite character was her best friend Jonah, who's a real sweetheart. He had such a sparkle to him and I could see why him and Anna were such good friends. 

Then there's Ben, the journalist who Anna gets to know through work shadowing. I didn't warm to him as much as I did Jonah, although it was obvious he was handsome and charming, too. I could see why Anna's interest was peaked and I enjoyed watching the two of them interact. 

The story is told mainly through Anna's viewpoint, although some chapters start from a different character's view-point and then come back round to Anna. I liked this change, as it gives a more detailed insight into some of the other characters and always links to the situation unfolding within that chapter. It's done in such a way that it adds another layer of delight to the story and isn't distracting or confusing.

This story is fantastic, really magical and gripping. To me, it wasn't obvious who the sender was, which had me hooked. I kept guessing but then changing my mind as the story progressed and I never really settled on a culprit at all. I was shocked by the reveal but not disappointed, I felt it was a fitting end to such a wonderful story. 

This is Miranda Dickinson's first book with Pan MacMillan and it certainly has been an exciting change. Her writing style is impeccable as usual, creating engaging characters, 'I want to go there now' locations and a unique storyline that is entertaining and fun. If I had to sum up A Parcel For Anna Browne in one word? Magical. 

I absolutely loved it and can't wait for more!

Buy the book (and I certainly would recommend you do!) 

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