Herewith the third of my readings from the Romantic Novel of the Year longlist:  FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK by Miranda Dickinson.

This is a first novel which Harper Collins UK Avon imprint harvested from their Authonomy website.  This facilitates writers critiquing each other’s work and is supposed to turn into a full service support-group.  This novel, then called Coffee at Kowalski’s, was well received – you can see some of the comments it got still on the site.  The Authonomy community loved Dickinson’s voice and her characters.

We’re close to chick lit country – narrator Rosie Duncan, self professed optimist, is a British florist living in New York, friend of hyper social New York Times columnist Celia and employer of a couple of lovable eccentrics, Ed the serial dater and Marnie the romantic disaster.  They’re all looking for love, with intermittent success, but they want respect in their work too, and they don’t hesitate to involve their friends in their personal schemes.  We’re in the common ground between Friends and Sex in the City, if you will.  

But, for an optimist, Rosie has  a surprising tendency to see the down side risk (even of free publicity for her beloved flower shop).  She is mourning the old man from whom she bought the shop (he boosted her confidence and taught her to take time out when a huge order  stressed her to breaking point).  And she has dreams in which she’s crying and saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’.  As Mr Kowalski, whose gentle shade haunts this book says, ‘Sooner or later the thing you fear most will come to find you.’  

What Rosie fears is not a Bagshawe Assassin or even a Dillon Despairing Dog.  And no, I’m not going to tell you what it is, because the narrator doesn’t tell for ages.  But, believe me, when it comes, it’s wince-making.  

This is another book about a heroine, moving on, standing tall, dealing with her demons.  It is about friendship, and healing, and the delight of small things.  It is also a love letter to New York, its shops, its Sunday brunches, its frenetic, interlocking social scenes, its past.  In Dickinson’s hands, the Big Apple even turns into a kind place.  

A hopeful book.  

DECLARATION OF INTEREST   Miranda Dickinson is another stranger to me – and I’ve only visited the Authonomy site once before, too.

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