Eleanor “Elle” Bee’s childhood was not easy and now her adulthood is off to a rocky start, as well. As international best-selling author Harriet Evans takes the reader through English-born Elle’s life, first seeing her as a teenager struggling with tough family circumstances--her parent's divorce, a bullying older brother, and her mother's questionable attachment to alcohol. Though time, we see her fumble her way into a career in publishing and trip through relationships, hoping to find happiness in both. Despite all of this, Elle becomes a strong, capable adult as the reader watches her overcome many obstacles.
Happily Ever After is full of surprises and Evans’s characters were strongly written.
I felt sympathy and anger towards the characters like they were real people--from Rory, Elle's arrogant boss later turned more to Tom, with whom Elle has a complicated relationship. I did not expect to establish such strong emotional attachment to them. Evan’s ability to ellict these emotions is impressive, especially considering that the book covers such a large timespan of one individual's life--and the book itself is quite long, over 400 pages. Despite the chunks of time missing from the novel, I did not feel that the book was choppy. The different times and places described in Happily Ever After were all sewn together with no loose ends.
Female readers over the age of 20 would enjoy reading about Elle. Single women charting out their careers can likely identify with Elle's trials and tribulations, battling her way through relationships, proving herself at work, and dealing with family issues--sometimes not so elegantly. Anyone could learn from Elle and benefit from the lessons life teaches her about resilience.
I would give the book 4 stars.