Reviewed by Helen Wyatt
I received a copy of Claire Handscombe’s debut novel Unscripted to review. When I first opened the package I was a little unsure as the cover photo would not have inspired me to buy this book in a shop. A little on that – I buck against the rule of “don’t judge a book by its cover” as this is generally how I do buy books! That said, I am really pleased I did get to read it as it had me hooked from the outset!
The story is based on a young woman, Libby, who is a huge fan of an actor called Thomas Cassidy, a C-rate (by his own admission) American actor who used to star in one of her favourite shows about an inspirational teacher, called The Classroom. Libby is a Cambridge graduate, struggling to get by on a teacher’s wage that doesn’t really match her aspirations to live in London. Libby has a strong group of friends who were all at Cambridge together, and she relies on them heavily to support her without giving too much (anything) back, but they have long since got sick of her constant references to The Classroom and Thom, and just want her to get over it.
Libby has other plans, however, and decides she is going to write a novel, name the main character after Thom, then he will read the novel, fall in love with her, offer to turn it into a movie and ultimately they will have a happy ever after. The structure of the book is not standard chapter numbers, but alternates between four main characters: Libby, Thom, Dan and Ebba. Each chapter is headed by one of their names and is then spoken from their point of view.
I genuinely thought I was going to have to endure this book in order to write a review, but I truly loved it. The characters are so real, and their stories intertwine so perfectly you don’t want to it down, whilst you see what happens next. It’s funny, moving, thoughtful and asks the question: how far can you take your dream? Libby’s dream is to end up with Thom, but what about Dan? Thom is recovering from a break-up so what will his [spoiler alert!!] encounter with Libby to do him? And what about Ebba, where does she fit into all of this?!
This heartfelt book really builds the characters, so you truly feel like you get to know them. Ever had that feeling that characters in a book could be your friends? You’ll get it here too! Claire has a way of bringing them alive, and whilst Libby might have her flaws you don’t get irritated with her as you can follow her obsessive thinking and know where she might be coming from.
An easy, but very enjoyable, read that doesn’t end as you might expect, but also doesn’t leave you dissatisfied as all the storylines are tied up nicely. It also feels nicely like a standalone book, so would be a great Christmas present for anyone who likes author like Marian Keyes or Helen Fielding, and loves an unrequited romance storyline.
RRP: £10.99 (Paperback) / £0.99 (Kindle)
Available to buy from Amazon here.