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Saturday, 4 June 2016

Book Review: Happily by Sophie Tanner

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

How far will you go for your Happily Ever After?

Chloe Usher’s had enough of being asked why she's ‘still single’; people can’t seem to understand why she’s not freaking out about the slippery slope to spinsterhood. But, as far as Chloe’s concerned, life is sweet; she’s happy, she loves her job, her friends and her flat share next to Brighton beach. One summer evening, after being told that she will never know what love is until she has children, she decides to say ‘actually, I do!’ and announces to her friends that she’s going to marry herself. She’s not quite prepared for the huge reaction to her news on social media and finds herself thrust firmly into the public eye; suddenly she’s a spokesperson for every crazy cat lady out there. With the warm support of her colourful extended family, Chloe attempts to justify her self wedding and the events that unfold take her on a bumpy journey of self-discovery - making exciting new connections and settling old ghosts.

This is a cheeky, original and light-heartedly subversive tale that challenges the notion of ‘settling down’.

Image: Sophie Tanner
Right from the very start, it's clear that Happily is going to be an unorthodox love story. The author throws off all the usual chicklit romance cliches, not least the very important fact that this is not a boy-meets-girl scenario, from the beginning. It's actually quite refreshing to read something so unique from such an overdone genre. 

As far as lead characters go, Chloe is great to read about. Her life is incredibly varied, ranging from family drama to a wide range of vastly different friends, to her own realisations of acceptance and loving herself. Chloe isn't the only one in Happily who leads an interesting life though. The whole book is jam-packed full of vibrant and colourful characters, who really bring the story to life through a myriad of viewpoints, situations, and intriguing subplots.

Pride

There are almost too many fascinating subplots to pick out from this maelstrom of characters. In fact, the author could easily write a whole series of spin-offs featuring them, there's that much scope with a cast like this. However, I have to pick out Joey and (without spoilers) the events that take place at Pride. Things like this are incredibly important to raise awareness that these kinds of anti-LGBTQ incidents do still happen, even at events as high profile as Pride.

Should people be able to marry themselves?

Of course, it's impossible to review this book without talking about the concept of marrying yourself. Regardless of your opinions on the matter, and whether it's right or wrong, you can't deny that it makes for an interesting debate. Should people be legally able to marry themselves?

Several people in the book itself raise the argument that it's actually incredibly self-centred, while others, Chloe included, counter this by saying that it's just an awareness of the ability to love yourself. Chloe is right in the fact that in today's society you're almost seen as incomplete if you aren't married by a certain age, and the whole notion that you need a partner to be happy is, sadly, a view shared by many people. The fact that Chloe is able (although admittedly not legally) to marry herself is actually quite empowering. Despite all the media attention she receives for her marriage in the book, her reasons for wanting to go ahead with the marriage are clear. It's important for everyone to love themselves and feel comfortable and happy with their lives, with or without a partner, and for me this book epitomises that.

Rating: 3 stars.

Happily is available to buy now. To find out more, visit Sophie's website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

What do you think about the idea of marrying yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

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