Book Review – Happier Than She's Ever Been by Menna Van Praag

4 Jul

May Fitzgerald suddenly has everything she’s ever wanted. After years of feeling fat and frumpy and looking for love in all the wrong places, she finally has the life and man of her dreams. It all should be so perfect – she had followed her inner voice and it led her to the magical life she had dreamt of. But as her new life as a successful author starts to take off, May’s old demons start to creep back to haunt her. Her insecurities begin to kick in and she starts to fall for the praise and glitter of fame. Her behaviour pushes her boyfriend to the edge and looks set to destroy their relationship. Can she turn it all around and prove that it really is possible to have it all? This is a story about making choices and not losing yourself, but most importantly, this is a story about following your dreams!

I reviewed Menna Van Praag’s debut novel, Men, Money and Chocolate last month and having really enjoyed it moved straight on to read the sequel, Happier Than She’s Ever Been which was published last week. I absolutely love the cover for this book with its silhouette of the San Franciscan skyline; one of my favourite covers of the year so far!

Happier Than She’s Ever Been revisits Maya Fitzgerald (now known as May) and picks up the story a year after the end of Men, Money and Chocolate. May is now happily settled in San Francisco, living with her boyfriend Ben and helping him with his bookshop whilst still promoting the self-published book that brought her to America in the first place.  I was pleased to see that the book has the same tone and style as its predecessor and continues the lovely mix of chick lit,  fairytale, philosophy and spirituality that I enjoyed so much in the first book. Although I’d recommend reading Men, Money and Chocolate first, its not essential to have read book one before reading this one as any gaps in the background are filled in as May recalls her old life and reflects on how far she’s come.

At the start of the novel, May really is ‘happier than she’s ever been’ but of course, nothing stays the same forever and as events and relationships begin to move on, May finds that she begins to doubt and question her situation again. Whilst Men, Money and Chocolate focused on May learning to love herself, this book examines her relationship with Ben more closely and the impact of May’s career on both of them by looking at the notion of Soul mates and what exactly is a ‘perfect’ relationship?

May is a very believable character; and continues to make mistakes throughout the novel; she lets her success go to her head and her relationship with Ben begins to change leaving her wondering why she doesn’t feel happy even though she technically has everything she’s ever dreamed of! This time May finds guidance in some familiar places and also through some serendipitous meetings with strangers which give the book an almost magical feel at times and I love the way Menna Van Praag drops gems of useful advice into her tale.

I thought the conclusion to the book was perfect and it left me with a big smile on my face. Happier Than She’s Ever Been certainly makes an impact; it’s a quick read but with a lovely message about following your dreams and what true love is really all about and I’m already looking forward to Menna’s next book!

4/5

Happier Than She’s Ever Been is out now and I’d like to thank Jessica at Hay House Publishers for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Menna and her books at: http://www.mennavanpraag.com/

2 Responses to “Book Review – Happier Than She's Ever Been by Menna Van Praag”

  1. Sharon Goodwin 4th July 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    I love the cover too! Enjoyed reading your review, thank you.

    I have so many books on my wish list now ……………

  2. Jess Hearts Books 4th July 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    Thanks for this great review! The cover is so pretty and it sounds great- adding to wishlist! :)

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