From the publisher:
Following a year in the life of a twenty-something British woman who falls hard for her London flat mate, this clever, fun, and unforgettable romantic comedy is the perfect feel-good holiday read.
Two people. One house. A year that changes everything.
Twenty-nine-year-old Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling, but grand, Notting Hill house-share with four virtual strangers. On her first night, Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor, at a Christmas dinner hosted by her landlord. They don’t kiss, but as far as Jess is concerned the connection is clear. She starts planning how they will knock down the wall between them to spend more time together.
But when Jess returns from a two-week Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else—beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams…and the woman of his.
I generally love anything British, but I didn’t love this book. I felt like I was wading through molasses to get to the end. It was slowwwww. That said, I did like the characters quite a bit, at least the two main characters. The rest were all sort of lumped in together, except for maybe Sophie, Jess’s best friend since childhood. And Jess’s grandma, I loved her.
The synopsis by the publisher doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. Jess moves into the house with a bargain-basement rent because the owner of the house is one of her best friends from “uni” (university,) as they say. Becky has inherited the house, and it is worth millions, as is explained many, many times.
What I did love about this book is that Jess and Alex often take walks around different London neighborhoods, so this book is part travelogue, and I think those pages are the best bits. I learned there is a neighborhood near Notting Hill called Paddington and neighboring that is Little Venice. Which I had never heard of, and neither had my husband – and he thought he had walked all of London when he was there many years ago. In a funny coincidence, my son’s in-laws are staying in London for several months in the Paddington neighborhood, and regularly visit the Starbucks that is in Little Venice! They sent me this picture (thanks, Nancy!) And why is there no word in English for that familial relationship? In Yiddish, they are my machatunim, which Slate questions as well.
Other quibbles – the cover, and the title, and even the synopsis make this seem like it is a Christmas book, which it is not. It is written sort of like a journal, with dates starting each chapter as they move through the year from December to December. It is mostly told from Jess’s viewpoint, but Alex has several chapters as well. I didn’t love that changing point of view, it seems a bit like cheating to me. The author wanted to make sure we understood that both Alex and Jess had feelings for one another even though they date/sleep with other people and don’t declare their feelings for one another until the end. Not really a spoiler since this is a romance, and that is a very common ploy. There is no explicit sex here, just implied (for lack of a better word,) and that didn’t affect me one way or another.
This was just an okay read for me. I did like the characters and the ending, it just took too long to get there.
11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
WE MET IN DECEMBER by Rosie Curtis. Berkley (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1984806093. 352p.