Book Review: Cents and Sensibility

In summer 2006, when I was working front of house for Burberry, I can recall deliberating over two books. I can't recall the book I didn't purchase that day, but the one I chose became one of my favourite books and in part influenced me to write the genre I write.

The book was Cents and Sensibility by Maggie Alderson and things might have been quite different today if I had picked the other book. However, the reason I chose this book was because of the author information; Maggie's happens to say:

Maggie Alderson was born in London, brought up in Staffordshire and educated at the University of St Andrews

Being a St Andrean myself, the decision was made.

Cents and Sensibility follows the life of journalist Stella who writes about luxury for top newspaper, the Journal - she'd rather be writing about Politics though. On a press freebie in the Côte d’Azur, she meets Jay - a gorgeous playboy who could give her womanising father (called Henry, and he's also had six wives ...) a run for his money - but because she knows the rules from her dad, she knows how to get him. What she doesn't realise however, is that Jay is actually a billionaire. That's when the problems begin...

Set in the Côte d’Azur, London and New York (some of my favourite places), the book is beautifully descriptive and perfectly accurate with its luxury smells, sights and sounds. I've read reviews that say this is pure fluff, but Maggie peppers the book with delightful insights into the world beyond the fluff *if* only you're the sort of reader who appreciates the subtle hints behind the surface. This isn't fluff - this is clever, captivating writing.

Definitely one my favourite books, and I whole-heartedly recommend you read it! Has anyone else read this or any of Maggie's other books?


  1. Has anyone else had a book turn their life around? A sort of rite-of-passage book, I guess you could say.

    Hmmm. Not really. Though now I wish there had been.

  2. There's still time, Peter! You never know what you might end up reading in the future that could make you a whole new you! :0)

  3. Hello. I've just done a meme and I tagged you! :D

  4. I totally felt that I WAS Cassandra in I Capture the Castle. Also in a more frivolous way, I identified with Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm. It didn't help me know what I wanted to be though, other than just mope about in the countryside... oh, wait, that IS my dream!!

    I can see I've got lots of reading to do here!! Will get started this weekend...

  5. I've read all of Maggie Alderson's books as far as I'm aware, and she just gets better.

    As for books that turned my life around . . . as you probably remember from my guest post, that was probably "Bridget Jones" purely because it was my first realisation of what chick lit was and then after that it all just exploded. And then my life was worthwhile again. :)

  6. Well...ALL books I read play a part in shaping how I look at the world, but the first book I remember reading and thinking, "Wow...just, wow..." was CS Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." I didn't even know books could DO that. I re-read it every so often and it's still one of my favourites now, 25 years after I first read it.

  7. @ Daisy - Well that's still inspirational and life-defining. :0)

    @ Paula - I was too young for Bridget to be my defining book. I love that it's not just me who found chick lit, then found life! :D

    Maggie's got a new book out (she only has one published every two years - so that totals five now), but her new book seems to be only available in Oz at the moment. Nooooo!

    @Papercuts - Oh, a meme. Maybe I'll do it!

    I love The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Roald Dahl also inspired me for children's fiction - I love the imagery you get with the genre, and how far you can push boundaries; how magical the ordinary can become for children.

    Initially I wanted to be a children's writer. I've been writing on and off children's fiction all my life, but I've never managed to complete a book. For now I'm happy concentrating on my chick lit books. Children's writing was always a given for me; my chick lit had to be inspired.

  8. ooh! I love CS Lewis Narnia books.. ahaha. They took me to a whole other world as well.. An escape really! :P

    As for Maggie Alderson? I've never read her books, but after reading this post, I've got a few reserved at the library!! :D

  9. I hope you like them MHEA! :0)

  10. Okay, I might have passed my opportunity to comment on this BUT I feel too strongly about this book to just let it go. I've read so many books that have just made me sigh at the end but there's one (and yeah, it's a really cheesy one but it changed everything) and tadaa; Wuthering Heights.

    I just think it's amazing how a woman like Emily Brontë (lacking the actual hands-on experience) has been able to describe love, hate, passion etc so vividly.

    As far as chick-lit goes, I'm gonna have to say Bergdorf Blondes. I giggled through the whole book (at one sitting), mostly for persona reasons, but I still count it as the beggining of my chick-lit "era".

  11. You can post on whatever post you want, whenever you want! :0)

    I have only read WH a few times, but it's a great read and amazing how Brontë could write it, like you point out.

    I'll have to check out Bergdorf Blondes! Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Well, I'm all for cheesy stories.. But hey, I'm just a girl ;P

    You really should check out Bergdorf Blondes and while ur at it be sure to check out Plum Sykes other book: Debutante Divorcé.

    Oh yeah, have you ever read My Friend Leonard? It's one of my alltime favourites as well. I don't think I've ever cried in a public place before, but I just had to finish this book in the buss.. :D

  13. I've not read any of them, but I will defintely check them out! :D