My Great Ex-Scape
Shortly after finishing My Great Ex-Scape, I texted a friend that I had “escaped” the latest book I’d been reading. That’s really all you need to know about this one. Nonetheless. . .
Rosie Jones, through a series of events, is dragged from the mundanity of her life in Manchester when she ends up on a quiz show called One Big Question. During the game, she’s permitted a call for help to a person of her choice. With $65,000 USD (yes, this American reviewer did the conversion) on the line, she calls her boyfriend. She says, “I have One Big Question” and, thinking her question is about commitment, her boyfriend gives her, along with the answer to the game question, a public dumping. Then, flowers and a card arrive: “I love you. I should never have let you go. I want you back.” So begins Rosie’s reunions with all her past partners as she attempts to locate the sender. By a third of the way through the book, she finds herself on a cruise ship with her parents and now openly gay ex-boyfriend, Eli, in pursuit of Josh, BF#3, who is the ship’s Michael Bublé (he’s an impersonator).
We’ll start with our heroine, poor girl. Rosie’s chief personality trait is her predisposition to relentlessly body-shame herself and obsess over food. She talks about her inability to fit in her clothes, her lack of attractiveness (“I can probably scrape a 6 with the right Instagram filter”), and her room service order (which she assures us, “no, of course I didn’t eat it all and yes, I left more than just the salad”). She hates pretty much everything about herself, but her body gets the most criticism. She refers only once to this as a “hang up” (and that in the context of getting completely smashed so the self-criticism is drowned out) but otherwise it’s clear that we readers should be amused and comforted by how relatable Rosie is. When you shut this book in frustration, have a look at the cover and check out Book Cover Rosie’s miniscule waistline.
As for Josh, he is a knock-off Bublé and a knock-off romance hero. One of my favorite books as a teenager was Penny Vincenzi’s Something Dangerous, and in it there’s a moment when the heroine weeps to a confidante that she’s madly in love with a man, but she thinks she should marry the other guy she’s engaged to because of some bland reasons I can’t recall. Her confidante tells her that she can’t marry someone because they both like their eggs the same way, and that’s all I could think of during Rosie and Josh’s *air quotes* love story. Rosie talks about how Josh ‘gets’ her because they both love true crime shows, etc. There’s no chemistry and no connection beyond a few shared interests, and so the whole thing is unconvincing.
Stylistically, the book is also a mess. Rosie is described as a “brilliant writer” by Josh, who clearly must only read one book a year owing to his demanding performance schedule. Done well, as in Mhairi McFarlane’s Don’t You Forget About Me, the writer/narrator trick works. Sadly, Rosie’s narration is crammed with cruise liner-sized paragraphs of her internal monologues, and her descriptions are both excessive and profoundly average at the same time. For example:
“This isn’t my first trip to the bins with bags full of shed crap. I know that the green bin is for the garden stuff. Then there’s the black and the brown and blah, blah, blah.”
Blah, blah, blah is right. There is no earthly reason why I or any other reader needs to know the colors of her garbage bins. Heaven forbid she ever writes something for my morning paper.
The book ends with an HFN as skinny and unsatisfying as Book Cover Rosie’s waistline. There was a sneak peak of another of the author’s books at the conclusion of my copy – it’s another travel story. I can’t say I’ll be buying a ticket for that trip.
Buy it at: Amazon
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