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Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

In Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell, the Kinsella family is far from conventional with a mother, Leonie who skips out on her husband and two daughters, Nadia and Clare, and drops another daughter, Tilly, off with her former husband James years later.  Living with their high-brow grandmother, Miriam, Nadia and Clare are mostly well-adjusted young women sorting out their own lives, while their youngest sister, Tilly, is just 13 and still looking for her place in the family.

With Mansell readers know their will be misunderstandings, false-starts, romance, and comedy, but as with the last few books, there are moments of seriousness as well.  Nadia and Laurie have known each other for years and become a couple just as his career as a model begins to take off, prompting Laurie to sever ties and branch out to America and leave Nadia devastated.  Her chance meeting with Jay Tiernan, a hot man in the real-estate biz, a year ago still gets her heart beating fast, but it’s unlikely that they will meet again . . . until they do.  If that weren’t enough fodder for romance and mishap, Mansell introduces Clare and her shockingly narcissistic boy toy Piers, plus James, their father, finds himself popping into the same newsstand not just to pick up Tilly after work but to see Annie every day without saying a word.

“‘D’you have a brush in there?’ Piers nodded at the beaded clutch bag on her lap.

‘Yes, do you want to borrow it?’

‘I meant for you.’  He sounded amused.  ‘I prefer your hair down.'” (page 121 ARC)

Unlike Nadia who is honest and cognizant of how everyone feels, Clare is clearly unashamed to ask for what she wants, especially when it comes to selling her paintings.  Even as her relationship with Piers goes rocky, she’s still got her eyes open for the next big catch and on the next rich person to sell her paintings too.  She’s very shameless.  Nadia being the good sister tries to tamp down her sister’s enthusiasm, but at the same time, she’s also the peacekeeper in the family when Leonie resurfaces and wants Tilly to move home with her and her latest man, who has a daughter about the same age.

Despite the varied characters and numerous story lines, the main focus is Nadia who is caring for others almost through the entire book even after she’s dumped by Laurie.  Although the relationship with Laurie ends in the expected way, there are some loose ends that aren’t as neatly tied up as readers may expect, leaving Laurie in a positive light in Nadia’s eyes despite his less than stellar behavior.  There are fits and starts to many of these relationships, as the family members try to navigate their own lives and the drama with the disappearing-reappearing Leonie and other family drama, but it all works well in a complex roller-coaster ride that will keep readers turning the pages.

Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell is about taking a gamble, leaping into the unknown and finding out that sometimes there are good surprises in the deep end of the pool.  Mansell’s characters are charming, witty, and fun, but they’re also dynamic and flawed, which will keep readers coming back for more.

  • I love British chick lit and Jill Mansell does a great job with it! I look forward to reading this one.

  • Michelle Fidler

    I won this book from the publisher and am now reading it. I’ve never read a chick lit book before, but I’m enjoying it. The library has a few of her books. Her website says that she’s written 23 (but I bet most aren’t available in the U.S.). A Walk in the Park is coming out in the U.S. in November.

    • Michelle: I love her books and there are at least 10 that are available in the United States. This blog’s reviews have even been quoted on the back covers or in some of her books. I cannot wait for Walk in the Park in November.

  • One of the best recommendations I listened to was Jill Mansell’s books!

    • I’m so glad you listened. I just love her humor.

  • I think this is the first Mansell book in a long time that I haven’t read.

    • You better find a copy…this is a good one.

  • Mansell does indeed write great characters – this sounds like another winner!

    • If you haven’t read Mansell yet, you must.

  • Glad to see you enjoyed it, though how could you not? It’s Jill Mansell! I’m reading this one right now and am loving it. I totally needed a break from the heavy books.

    • I needed a break as well, and I just love her wit. She must be funny in person too. I can’t wait to give this one to mom.

  • I do enjoy Jill Mansell’s books. I need to get to this one soon!

    • I’ll be passing this one along to my mother. She loves Mansell as well.