The very best chick lit books entertain me, and often hit themes that resonate, even if the frequently encountered ditzy heroines sometimes drive me mad. Holly’s Inbox, a modern-day update of the epistolary novel, follows the life of fictional character Holly Denham as she starts work as a receptionist in a large corporate bank. Though Holly sometimes annoys, the story is ultimately a lot of fun to read.
As Holly begins work in the bank, some similarities to Bridget Jones’ Diary seem obvious. Like Bridget, Holly can be endearingly silly and sometimes seem overwhelmed at the notion of managing her own life. However, as she bumbles her way through settling in at her new job (and it’s no easy transition), the tone of her emails is so amusing that it’s difficult not to like her. At first I wondered how I would cope with nearly 700 pages inside the mind of a heroine who seemed clueless and more than a little dysfunctional, but, as the book continued, I discovered more to Holly than my first impression led me to believe.
Reading through Holly’s emails takes the reader into Holly’s world – wacky family, moderately off-kilter friends and all. However, beyond the almost stereotypical characters, one starts to see that Holly’s friends may have messy lives, but they’re staunchly devoted to her, have great senses of humor, and help one another out. And the more one gets to know the various characters in Holly’s life, the more one starts to like them.
If poorly done, a book this long could have seemed interminable, but the pages just seemed to zoom by. I would start to read, become thoroughly engrossed, and then suddenly find myself hundreds of emails into the text. One thing that made this story work comes from the writing itself. Many of the emails are quite humorous and the author does a good job of giving the various characters distinctive voices.
Those strong voices make Holly’s life and the various office intrigues in the story come to life. Her flirtation with her banker boyfriend feels immediate and real and I enjoyed watching the relationship develop. In addition, the reader quickly learns that Holly has a few secrets in her past that she is hiding. These come out gradually, and I enjoyed watching her reveal them bit by bit.
Since Holly’s Inbox is chick lit rather than straight romance, the focus of the story is primarily on Holly and her adjustment to life at the bank. Since she is a likable character, I did not mind this at all. However, readers expecting romance as the primary focus of the story may be disappointed. Holly’s romantic life certainly plays a role in the book, but it’s not the only – or even the main – action. Still, aside from frustration with Holly’s ditziness or doormat-like qualities on occasion, I greatly enjoyed this book – and its fantastic twist near the end that I suspect will please many readers.