The thing I like best about Cecelia Ahern’s books is that they’re different to most chick-lit. Rather than turning out classic romances she weaves magical stories that take a sideways look at life. So far, her novels have featured letters from beyond the grave, a girl with an invisible friend and a book that can predict the future.
Her new novel, The Time of My Life, is the story of Lucy Silchester, a scatty translator who lives in a grotty flat. She’s broken up with her boyfriend, hates her job and has a tricky relationship with her family.
But one day she arrives home to find an envelope on the doormat. It’s embossed with a mysterious gold symbol and contains an invitation to a meeting with someone called Life. And it’s not any old life either. It’s her life.
When she comes face to face with Life in a down-at-heel office block, he turns out to be an unprepossessing man with a clammy hand-shake, bloodshot eyes and bad breath. He reveals he’s in such a state because of the careless way she’s been treating him.
The storyline sounds ridiculous but actually, Ahern pulls it off with panache. Lucy and her neglected life make an engaging, if grumpy, duo as he helps her to realise that she’s lost sight of everything important. Fed up with being overlooked, he accompanies her to the office, meets her astonished friends and even does a little matchmaking along the way.
I’m sure Ahern, the daughter of former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, would never claim her novels (this is the eighth) are Man Booker contenders, but The Time of My Life is one of her best. It’s funny and touching and has a meaningful message at its heart.
The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern (HarperCollins, £16.99)