Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
That Certain Spark by Isobel Hart – Book Details
TITLE – That Certain Spark
AUTHOR – Isobel Hart
GENRE – chick lit, contemporary
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2021
PAGE COUNT – 479
MY RATING – 2.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 5 of 5
That Certain Spark by Isobel Hart is my first NetGalley ARC I’ve been approved for. So – a huge thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing it!
There were several reasons why I asked for this ARC. First – I really liked that cover. I love light, pastel covers. And we all get days when we can barely make ourselves move from the couch, so I felt like I would probably be able to relate.
And the description (combined with the genre) also seemed perfect for my current mood. I needed something light and girly and fun to brighten this another-lockdown-on-the-horizon days. Plus, I haven’t read a chick lit in… I don’t even know how long.
Isobel Hart was a new author to me. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was hoping to just relax and have fun with this book…
What It Is About
“I should’ve known better than to judge him like that. I mean, I look like a fairly normal, fully functioning middle-age woman.”
The last things Claire expected to have to deal with in her mid-thirties were a divorce, losing her home and her job and having one of her friendships shattered to pieces. Yet, thanks to her husband’s infidelity, all of that struck at once.
Now Claire lives in a one-bedroom apartment, with a cat who likes testing her patience, a neighbor she keeps having weird encounters with and her always lurking panic attacks.
To try and sort out what’s left of her life, she enters a mindfulness course. There, Claire slowly learns how loving yourself should truly look like and that real happiness only comes from within…
That Certain Spark by Isobel Hart – My Review
Unfortunately, I didn’t end up liking this book as much as I hoped I would. Though the story sounded like something that could both touch me and make me laugh, a lot of what happened felt a bit stagey and I thought the book overall could have been better polished.
We meet Claire a few months after some pretty bad things had happened to her. And she’s not doing well.
Her life didn’t turn out the way she expected it to. Which is scary and heartbreaking on its own. But the much bigger problem is that Claire is not happy with herself.
That part must be relatable for anyone who’s ever gone through a bad breakup. Though I’ve never gone through exactly what happened to her and I never had straight out panic attacks, many of Claire’s reactions and inner monologues rang the bell.
And there were a few very pleasant surprises along the way. I’m not going to go into details here because some of them could be considered as spoilers. I’ll just say I really liked how the author handled a few things.
I am gonna say, though, that I loved that for once our protagonist tried to improve her life through self-love and mindfulness instead of just jumping into another relationship. And this book did a good job at portraying how recovery is not a straightforward process but always has its ups and downs.
However, although I appreciated the main idea, I thought that the execution of it could have been done much better. For example, the characters would often give each other advices and they sounded like they were reading them from a mindfulness pamphlet.
And the characters that were in the same course as Claire – I still didn’t like it, but I could at least see where they’ve picked it up. But even the other characters in the book, like her mom or her best friend, often sounded the same.
And I don’t know about you, but people I know don’t sound like they are in the middle of a therapy session while they are just hanging out. Even with the fact that mindfulness played a big part in this book, it sounded a bit weird at times.
Also, I guess I’m not really a fan of storytelling where you get someone’s devastating life events mixed with a bunch of humor. Especially when that humor is given through many highly unlikely to happen situations our protagonist keeps getting herself into.
The problem with that was that I couldn’t experience the full blow of her situation because the jokes would always pull me out of it. And the humor part I would normally appreciate, but in this case it was not really the type of humor that I find funny. This is just a personal preference, of course.
And then, although the writing style wasn’t bad, the author got me completely baffled by some of her storytelling choices. Several things that happened felt completely out of place.
I can’t even say they bothered me all that much as much as it confused me why she has chosen for the things to unfold the way they did. I’m just not sure many of the things that happened had a point, is all.
There were so many unnecessary details and even whole sequences of the story. Scenes after scenes that were not adding up to the story, not affecting the character growth and were not interesting enough to still be in the book without providing some sort of value.
So yeah – I don’t think I have much else to say about this book. It’s like everything about it was not terrible, not great and not quite my thing.