Although I like to think of myself as a lover of high-brow culture, perhaps, like Neve, the main character in this enjoyable novel by Sarra Manning, I have to admit that I do like a bit of chick lit once in a while. This is especially true when the chick lit is well-written and has interesting subject matter, both of which are true of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. I really motored through this book, and I feel confident that any woman who has ever had any body issues will enjoy it, too–i.e. pretty much every woman I know.
Neve Slater is an Oxford graduate who works as archivist, and she has recently lost a tonne of weight. She’s slimmed down slowly over three years, by exercising and eating sensibly. She’s completely besotted with her best friend from Oxford, William, who happens to have been away for the last three years, and so has missed the transformation. He’s due back at the end of the summer and Neve is determined to get down to a size 10 by his return. As she’s never had a boyfriend before, she wants to perfect her dating technique before falling into William’s arms. Her skinny sister, Celia, works for a fashion magazine, Skirt, and takes Neve out for the evening to a magazine do, in an attempt to help her find a boyfriend. Much to Celia’s dismay, Neve ends up going home with Skirt’s resident lathario, Max. However, through the course of this book we realise that neither Max nor William are quite what they seemed, and that perhaps it’s Neve, not society, who is too vain.
Not only was the subject matter interesting to me, I felt really skinny reading this book (apparently it’s not only Neve who is vain). I thought the writing was very wise and honest, offering a glimpse into the absurd world of female beauty. It is very light and easy reading that still manages to make you think and see the world a little bit clearer.