Note to Self by Anna Bell – Review
By Sandra Callard
Note to Self is the latest book by Anna Bell, an author who writes romance stories of a high order. This book is a full-on story about love, fun, disappointment and fulfilment in the life of a thirty-five year old woman, Edie. Seventeen years ago Edie had a strange compulsion to write letters to herself giving advice about her present life. These letters were to be posted on to her at various dates in the future, by a firm who practiced this sort of thing, and which were ultimately sent to her, one by one. Edie had almost forgotten about them when they started to arrive, and they have a massive effect on her now older self.
Edie is from a prosperous family and she holds a senior position in the firm her father owns. She lost her mother some years previously and still mourns her, but is close to her father and has a nice boyfriend. Not a bad life, but the letters will affect her in ways she could never expect and which eventually turn her life around.
Centred mainly on Edie’s love life, there are numerous side stories running alongside concerning her friends, their good and bad happenings, her own feelings as they are revealed, and especially those concerning her present boyfriend and her previous one. Her friends also have problems which the rest of them, as a team, try to address. They are everlastingly nice to each other and seem to live in a world of their own as they jolly each other along.
At this stage the whole farago becomes somewhat tiresome, as it is very easy to wish that Edie would get on with things and sort it out instead of moaning and suffering to herself. Her friends are eternally good to her, and she to them, and the story can easily slide into a terrible goody goody scenario where everybody loves and understands everybody else and all turns out well in the end. It does, in fact, fall just short of this, due entirely to the author’s superb writing, which makes the reader perk up and settle down again.
One or two characters are certainly effective, and Edie herself comes over as an extremely nice, if slightly boring, woman. She does grow as the novel continues and it does make the reader wonder why it took her so long to develop.
There are actually some quite lovely sections towards the end, which made me feel bad for the previous thoughts, and the finale is unexpectedly moving and almost brings a tear to the eye.
Note to Self is an unusually well plotted novel which is easy to follow and has no upsetting or objectionable scenes. It is a good flowing text that is clear to read and the characters are well thought out and sharply drawn. Why then did I finish the book with a slight feeling of nothing in particular? It is almost better to have a howling horror of a book that you can enjoy pulling to pieces, rather than one that has no faults except a bland faultlessness.
‘Note to Self’ by Anna Bell is published by HarperCollins, £8.99 paperback