Review – …And a Happy New Year?

and-a-happy-new-yearTitle: …And a Happy New Year?
Author: Holly Bourne
Published by: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Publication date: 1st November 2016
Pages: 224, hardback
Genre: YA, feminism

Evie, Amber and Lottie are having a new year party to remember.

For the first time since leaving college, all three girls are back together. It’s time for fun and flirting, snogs and shots.

(And not tears or tantrums or terrible secrets)

Because everything’s going great for these girls – Spinster Club for ever! Right?

***

A couple of nights ago I decided it was about time I read the new Spinster Club novella …And a Happy New Year? Never mind it was getting late and I had to be up at 6:30 the next morning; I told myself I would just read the first few chapters.

Fast forward an hour and a bit later, and I had finished the book. My eyes were barely staying open and I could already sense the exhaustion I’d feel in a few hours’ time, but I can’t say I regretted it one bit.

Evie, Amber and Lottie each narrate one of the three Spinster Club books, and reading this final novella from all of their perspectives. Throughout the series, Holly Bourne has been brilliant at giving each of these girls a distinguished voice, and this really came through in this novel.  When I first read Lottie’s point of view at the beginning of the book (after seeing how Amber had clearly been finding her problematic), I was worried she would come off as a ‘villain’ of sorts. However the internal conflicts and decisions made by each of the girls made it easy to engage in their mind-sets when looking at the plot from their point of view.

I was expecting the actual countdown and shouts of ‘Happy New Year!’ to be more important in the novel, however I think the fact that it occurred over a couple of pages with no huge significance was more effective. After all, this is not a book about the New Year, but rather more the lives of Evie, Amber and Lottie and how their friendship and individual identities change and mature as they grow up. A New Year’s party was just a convenient, fun setting that fit the themes of the book very well.

I don’t want to focus too much on the relationships in this book, but Will, Ollie and Kyle did feature quite a bit throughout the story. And besides, although one of the brilliant things about these books is their positive feminist themes, I think that to some extent relationships can be used to portray a message about feminism, good or bad. I found Kyle to be the least present in the novel of the three boys, and I quite liked the idea that he was in the background a lot of the time – not drawing attention to himself, just quietly supporting Amber when necessary. Ollie was quite the opposite, constantly demanding attention from Evie throughout the whole novel (at the cost of her own mental well-being). He came through for her in the end, when she really needed him, and that for me was a display of the equality in their relationship.

As for Will, there’s not much I can say that’s positive. Honestly, it made me quite sad to see the way he treated Lottie, but I guess you can look at it as an example of a relationship that is not feminist. I do wish things had worked out between them, but realistically I know that feeling fulfilled and happy in a relationship is more important than simply loving each other.

Overall, I think this was a perfect end to the series. I don’t want to let these girls go (and I’m sure others who have read the Spinster Club trilogy feel the same), but this story, and the brilliant characterisation of all of the characters left me feeling very content as I put down this book in the early hours of the morning (although I would never say no to another Spinster Club novel!).

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