Book review – Working it Out by Nicola May

7 Jul

Ruby Matthews has a plan. Twelve jobs in twelve months, until she finds the one of her dreams…

After an unexpected redundancy, Ruby begins to question her priorities. Inspired by a quote from Kahlil Gibran about loving your work, she launches her mission to find the ideal job.

Her year of gainful (and sometimes painful!) employment includes nannying for clients in the South of France; dealing with embarrassing ailments in a Harley Street Clinic; waiting tables in a buzzy Soho cafe; and meeting the celebs of years gone by in a home for retired actors. And even though love is no longer top of her list, relationships just seem to start happening along the way – which sees her handing out some P45s of her own!

But will any of the jobs, or men she meets, see her dreams come true? Or will Ruby just end up back where she started?

I first heard about Nicola May’s latest book when I noticed lots of people mentioning it on Twitter and I was even more intrigued when one of my favourite authors (Miranda Dickinson) described it as “The kind of special book that only comes along once in a while” so when Nicola contacted me to see if I’d like a review copy I said yes straight away! Before I get to the story though I have to comment on the fab cover for this book which is very professionally produced for a self-published work and unusual in both its illustration and lovely yellow colour, making it really eye catching as well as giving a good idea of the content.

The basic plot is brilliantly simple with leading lady and recently redundant Ruby making a New Year’s resolution to try out twelve jobs in twelve months to see if she can stumble upon her ideal career. I love books like this where a character takes on some sort of challenge and I enjoyed the way that the different jobs gave a huge variety to the plot as well as giving the book pace and good structure. The jobs Ruby finds herself doing are given original twists which made them interesting and held my attention and include a stint as a fortune teller at a corporate event and a week as a private box hostess at Royal Ascot. Nicola May has populated Ruby’s new work environments with a whole cast of quirky and often eccentric characters which add both humour and emotion the story.

Ruby makes quite an impact in most of the jobs she takes on in a very short space of time, for example thwarting a less than honest employee in one placement and revamping a charity shop that she works in and I really liked this aspect of her character. Overall Ruby comes across as a very caring and down to earth person and I thought her background and family situation were well written, different and believable. It was nice to discover a very ‘normal’ chick lit heroine from Reading. But there were also aspects to Ruby’s character that I liked less; she comes across as a bit of a ladette at times, particularly in her relationships with men and whilst I can see how some of the situations she finds herself in are humorous, it seemed almost contradictory to me that the kind and caring Ruby known by her colleagues and neighbours would throw herself at any good looking man that came along.

Thankfully, during the second half of the book Ruby begins to realise that her drunken antics aren’t doing her any favours and as the romantic side of the story gathers pace, I found myself really rooting for Ruby to get a happy ending both in her hunt for a new career and in the romance stakes. There are some excellent twists as the story comes to its conclusion with the book ending nicely on New Year’s Day, exactly a year from when it began.

Working it Out is a fun and original read with a lovably flawed lead character, a fast paced and interesting plot and a great supporting cast that will appeal to chick lit lovers. Nicola May strikes the right balance between the lighthearted parts of the storyline and topics such as bereavement, love and loss. The book is polished and well written and I’m sure it won’t be long before a publisher snaps Nicola up!


Working it Out is out now and I’d like to thank Nicola for sending me a copy to review.

You can find out more about Nicola and her books at:

2 Responses to “Book review – Working it Out by Nicola May”

  1. Sharon Goodwin 7th July 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    :) we had similar feelings. As always, a fab review x

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