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23 September 2014

Independent Jenny by Sarah Louise Smith

I'd read about half of Jenny's story when I decided how I wanted her life to pan out. I knew which man would make her happy and I hoped she'd see sense and agree with me. But then, later, it occurred to me that Jenny was her own woman. My opinion didn't matter. I would have to trust that she would make the right decision, one that would make her happy. My hopes, as a reader, were overshadowed by a character that was so real I felt I might know her.

And that's what's so special about this book. Jenny was sharing her story, I could hear her talking to me like a friend might over a coffee. There was no self-pity, no annoying sobbing for days – yes, Jenny's life was thrown into turmoil, but I liked her maturity. I liked how she faced up to one of the most dreadful experiences any of us can encounter.

A generation ago we had Friends Reunited and now we have the era of Facebook – allowing us to cyber-stalk our ex-partners, snoop on their new lives. But can we reconcile then with now? That's the dilemma facing Jenny and her friends. Can teenage crushes be rekindled and moulded into ever-lasting love? There's no easy answer to that question – Jenny is certainly unsure. 

Independent Jenny is still full of insecurities - they don't evaporate just because you have sole control over the remote. But being alone is surely better than being with the wrong person – the difficulty is recognising who that wrong person might be.

Sarah Louise Smith has a lovely, light style to her writing. The characters aren't bogged down, they're fresh and real - and even the gay friends are different enough to avoid the usual stereotypical clich├ęs. 

Setting much of the plot in Scotland - on the Isle of Sky - was an unexpected treat. I was as inspired by the scenery as Jenny - watching the sun set every evening would be entertainment enough for me.

A book about infidelity is never going to be a barrel of laughs, but what's life without humour? Sarah Louise Smith doesn't force it - but even a sad situation can make us smile. I adored how she allowed natural humour to thread its way through Jenny's new life.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book in an on-line competition. I thought I'd download it and read it - eventually. But I dipped into the first chapter and that was it - no turning back.

The book is available from Amazon:
Independent Jenny