Everyone warns Audrey about Harry when she starts working at the independent cinema. But that’s fine with her because she’s sworn off men since Milo broke up with her. That doesn’t mean she can’t help him with his zombie film…

You’re so middle class, I bet you had the Sylvanian treehouse as a child.

Audrey also hates romance films. Love didn’t keep her parents together and she believes the films give people a false idea of what love is. That they are dangerous. I do remember Holly running Twitter polls about best movie kisses and this book is what that was for. Harry is a charming combination of romance cliches who wishes to show Audrey that movie love isn’t all bad.

Yet there is a serious side to It Only Happens in the Movies. It talks about bad sexual experiences and how women often feel they’re to blame for them. It also doesn’t over-romanticise the positive experiences either. Audrey also pushes her old friends away, not feeling she’s able to deal with their brand of friendship any more.

Whilst not a confirmed diagnosis, Audrey’s mum shows signs of bipolar disorder. She’s just received news that her ex, Audrey’s father, has decided to sell the house once Audrey’s at university. Needless to say she doesn’t react well. I did feel sorry for Audrey being left with the burden of caring for her mum, when no one else seemed to be able to make concessions for her mental illness. I don’t know if it was hidden from her father or not.

Romance films ruin people’s real-life relationships. They offer this idea of love that isn’t sustainable in normal life.

It’s told in first person narrative so you only get Audrey’s biased view of things, so maybe she is the one to paint her father’s new wife as “evil stepmother”. I can’t tell if her father was just clueless or a sociopath, I’m not so sure I liked the portrayal of grown ups in this one. I mean, her mother doesn’t seem easy to live with and I can see both sides on the house situation. It seemed there to help back up the idea of romance films being unrealistic rather than being sympathetic to people who have been through divorce.

Sometimes I feel like Holly wants to be writing feminist essays. Some of the chapters start the discussion of romance movie tropes, which later on is revealed to be Audrey’s coursework, and they do relate to the plot. I think a lot of people would read a book of Holly’s film criticism through a feminist lens, separate to a novel. I’ve felt this way a bit with some of her other books, that there are chunks of text that aren’t really story but more something she wants to raise awareness of. So whilst I agree in concept, I’d like it to feel more natural to the story.

Is that how hearts work? Is love just a parasite that jumps bodies? It always exists, you always have to yearn for someone, and the only way to get over somebody is to obsess about someone else…?

I did overall enjoy the dynamic between Audrey and Harry and the story didn’t go where I was expecting it to. There some bits I love about Holly’s writing and a lot I can relate to, but sometimes I want a little less “hook” and more of the everyday life that she’s good at.

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Book Source: Purchased