Opening sentence: “I wasn’t sure I had enough wee for the stick.”
What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts is – wait. Before I talk any further about the book, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Is that the author’s real name? Surely not?’ I know because I had that exact thought, but it turns out, yes, it is her real name. A journalist by trade, she even wrote a whole article about how having a non-run-of-the-mill name builds personality.
I guess you’re now expecting some wackily named characters in this book, but no, our lead narrator is named Lilian (Lil) Bailey, her close friends are twins Jess and Clem and her love interest is Max Rushbrooke. He’s a Bear Grylls style adventurer and climber, a member of the aristocracy and the father of Lil’s baby. Yep, after a one night stand with Max, Lil finds herself unexpectedly pregnant by a man she barely knows and who has minor-celebrity status. As her friend Jess puts it: ‘Lil, you’ve shagged someone with a Wikipedia page! ‘Modern romance.’ This is the conundrum that the story of this book tackles. We follow Lil as she comes to terms with her new situation and it covers the realities of pregnancy so well, for example, it’s the first novel I’ve read that accurately depicts the non-lovely side of pregnancy such as the faff of weeing all over your hands when trying to do a pregnancy test or the horrors of excessive flatulence (I know, pregnancy is so glam, right?) and that was so refreshing to read!
It’s the character of Lil that really sells this story; she is charming and likeable and although I’ve never been in her exact situation, she is so relatable as a person. From her judgemental inner monologue: ‘I hated excruciating conversations like these. Conversations where I sounded rational in my head, but then, as soon as I forced the words out, seemed unhinged.’ To her thoughts on last minute Christmas shopping: ‘No offence to L’Occitane, but nobody ever deliberately set out to buy a gift set of soao and hand cream, did they?’ You cared about Lil as she felt so real; just the right amount of vulnerability and paranoia mixed with a witty tone and laugh out loud one-liners. (‘For the billionth time that day I wondered if there was anything worse than a first date. Waterboarding?’) I always looked forward to opening up this book and getting back to Lil’s company.
I have to say, What Happens Now? took me by surprise – in a wonderful way. I wasn’t expecting it to be half as funny or insightful as it was and I ended up really admiring Lil, who found herself in a less than ideal situation and handled it with aplomb. Also, I love the book’s message of family; that it is what you create and want it to be, rather than biological ties. This really is a great read that continues my run of cracking contemporary romance books this summer – the others being The Flatshare and Our Stop if you fancy some more like this.
/ Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
/ Published by HQ 22nd August 2019
/ 384 pages
/ Rating: 4/5