Open House by Jill Mansell

'Something terrible happened this morning,' he read. 'Had one of those dreams, a really strong one, that I'm going to end up marrying Marcus Kilberton. Yuk, definitely don't want this one to come true.'


The blurb

Nell O'Driscoll's known Marcus Kilberton for years - according to her diary, she even had a crush on him as a teenager. When he decides to open Kilburton Castle to the public, Nell takes a job as his assistant - and soon sparks are flying between them. But is Nell free to pursue Marcus, when part of her past refuses to let go?

The world fell apart for Nell's best friend, Hetty Brewster, when her husband Tony abandoned Hetty and their teenage daughter for a bitchy but successful writer. Now the press is full of stories about the frumpy, boring wife losing out to a younger, slimmer model. But Hetty's about to get her chance for sweet revenge - if she can stop being nice long enough to take it! 

Becca's thoughts

As usual, I finished reading Open House with a feeling of fluttery happiness, which tends to happen every time I finish one of Jill's lovely books. I received Open House from a family member as one of my Christmas presents. I asked for this one as I've read nearly all of her more recent novels, so I'm now slowly making my way through her older ones too. I adore Jill Mansell and her style of writing, every chapter is full of delight and upbeat characters, and they're always so easy to relate to. The dialogue is entertaining and down to earth giving the reader an incredibly enjoyable read. I've heard a lot of people say that they think Jill's books are more like holiday reads. For me personally, I can happily read one of her books any time of the year, whether I'm at home or on holiday. Either way, I always feel fulfilled when I turn the last page and close the book. 

The one thing I absolutely adore about her stories are the many wonderful, colourful characters that she creates. Using dual point of view, Jill allows us to see her story from many different aspects and it makes it so much more interesting! What's fantastic, and what also makes me enjoy these books so much, is how Jill manages to bring all of her characters together at some point in the book. They cross into each other's fictional lives now and again, and one character always knows another character somehow. 

In Open House, we're introduced to Nell and Marcus. These are the two main characters, and the story begins when they're both just young teenagers. It's charming to get an image of them being so young and then getting to meet them again when they're both grown adults. It's such a wonderful contrast and very heart-warming. The relationship between Nell and Marcus when they're young isn't a very pleasant one. Nell's background is rather different to Marcus. Coming from a large family and associated with the "lower-class-", Nell isn't looked upon by Marcus as being worthy of his attention. Marcus, on the other hand, lives in a castle with his wealthy and "upper-class" family. It's fair to say that the dialogue between Nell and Marcus as young kids was entertaining, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at some of the remarks that they threw at each other. Let's just say, it's a love-hate relationship. After a rather disastrous meeting which takes place in the pouring down rain, things get a little heated between them and Nell ends up launching a rock at Marcus' car. Once they go their separate ways, you just know that they're going to meet again at a later time in their lives. 

As the story progresses, lots of different characters are introduced to you. From the lovely Hetty Brewster to the spoilt brat Jemima, to the glamorous Kiki, to the heart throb Derry. There's just so much life happening in the pages of this book, it's hard not to fall in love with each character. It's almost as if Jill ignites her characters with magic and they come to life right before your eyes. 

Another aspect of this story that I loved was Kilburton Castle; where Marcus resides and where Nell gets a job as his personal assistant. The castle is absolutely beautiful and it's description really allows you to get a perfect image in your mind of what it would look like. I think Kilburton Castle added a homely little feel to the story.

I think Open House deserves a fabulous rating of 9/10 from me!
I wouldn't say it was my favourite, but I really, really enjoyed it and I'd definitely re-read it at some point. The characters, the settings, the story. It's all beautifully put together, but then again I wouldn't expect anything less from the wonderful writer that is Jill Mansell. A very enjoyable story! I'd recommend this to anyone who likes a lively novel, full of interesting characters! There's also a whole load of humour in here too, and it had me giggling an awful lot. I LOVED IT! 

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