Bookish Sophie is living in a little village and working in the local teashop when Billy Buskin walks in to her life. In the area to film yet another adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Billy takes an instant shine to Sophie, despite her not having the faintest idea who he is. But there’s a reason Sophie never ventured far from home, can she really build a life with a famous actor and will she ever live up to his exes?
“ I hate to tell you this but my life consists of books and baking.”
Billy and Me is quite a sweet little book about a village girl who finds herself in a world she doesn’t belong in. At first I was a little dubious about the celebrity wife author angle, but it is clear Giovanna Fletcher has taken inspiration from her own experiences. Sophie doesn’t want to change her life but she can’t just carry on being a teashop girl when all eyes are on Billy.
In hindsight, it’s clear the episode in the cupboard was my first experience of a panic attack, but I didn’t know that at the time. All I knew then was that I wanted to be as far away from other people as possible. The only person I cared about was Mum…but she was the only person, it seemed, who didn’t want to talk to me.
Sophie is a quiet, mad haired girl whose closest friend is the old lady who runs the teashop she works in. We know her dad is absent for some reason and her relationship with her mum is rocky. But she won’t leave her comfort zone. This lovely, kind, timid person at the start reminded me of a few people I know and she made me smile, looking after all the gossipy ladies even if she was too scared to do anything for herself.
I got a bit frustrated about her attitude once she gets to London. She has this wonderful, caring boyfriend who is happy to support her in whatever she does…so she decides to work in a crappy coffee chain. I can understand the idea of wanting independence but it just came across as a huge waste of opportunity. She’s in London and she doesn’t have to pay rent! She also came across a bit immature in handling Billy’s sex scenes. He’s an actor…the way film and TV is going these days, having fake sex people is pretty much taken for granted. I don’t doubt partners feel jealous and insecure now and then but this was a bit over the top.
I did get a bit bored in the middle but to be honest, I have no patience with celebrity lifestyles and I could see where the whole thing was going. Paul was incredibly obvious in his manoeuvrings and the narration decided to spell it out for the reader just you can’t work it out from what he says to Sophie. However I really liked that parts that were more about Sophie, her love of books and baking and her family and friendships in her home village. I’d certainly read a second book if it ventured away from the celebrity side of things. Oh and Giovanna seems to really like exclamation marks; she had characters exclaiming over sentences that didn’t need them which made some of the characters seem a bit manic at times. But there were lots of great observations about celebrity culture and its impact on the people close to them.
“Soph, what did you read? Tell me,” he urges.
“What comments? Wait a minute! On the internet?” he asks, as he tries to get me to let him see my face. With the amount of snot and tears I’ve been producing he has zero chance of that! “Never read those comments, Sophie. Do you know who writes that stuff? Sad, lonely people who have nothing better to do than say and write crap. They don’t know you and they don’t realize they’re talking about real people with feelings…”
Giovanna Fletcher is the wife of Tom Fletcher from McFly and Billy and Me is her debut novel. Published by Penguin, it’s released tomorrow in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.