Book Review: Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

Once Upon A List By Robin Gold - Header

Whilst I was searching for images to adorn my review of What Milo Saw by Virginia MacGregor I stumbled across a photograph of a table covered in books, and before I’d notice the finer, important detail (all the books were German translations), I was instantly drawn to one cover with a picture of a hot air balloon on it. The fact it was titled in German meant it took a few google translations and searches later to turn up the original, Robin Gold’s Once Upon A List, but the mere decoration of a balloon was enough to make me decide to read it. I truly was judging the book by it’s cover because I had no idea what it was about and the only reason it had entered my life was that single image.

Having put it in the “To Read” pile in the online book store I actually um’d and ah’d for quite a while about reading it. For you see, the British cover doesn’t have a balloon on it, in fact it has a lady in pink wellington boots and blue skinny jeans walking a dog. It’s a very feminine cover. And I wondered if I was about to read a light and frivolous piece of “chic lit”. But a book’s and book, and a story’s a story right?

Holiday Literature - Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

The story is very much holiday literature, a happy to lucky tale that is designed to be read on a beach, lounging in the sun. I didn’t have any sun or sand when I read it, but I still must admit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes it’s light and fluffy and a bit simplistic but it’s fun and friendly and welcoming. The story is a little bit superficial and it’s plot has so many implausible situations littering it to ensure it makes sense that it all feels a bit unrealistic. It doesn’t help either that I never really felt like there was any depth to the emotion the characters went through. There was certainly nothing to really connect with me with them. I understood why and what they were feeling, but they never made me feel it. It just lacked that little bit of quality to take a narrative and turn it into empathy.

As I said the story is also a bit manufactured. Life doesn’t work out as simply and unquestionably as it’s shown here. It almost feels as though the world around the main character stops to allow her to go on her adventure without remembering that life has responsibility and subsistence that create natural roadblocks.

Friends Cast - Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

I know I said I thoroughly enjoyed the book before I’ve just pointed out flaw after flaw, hypocritically twisting love and hatred, but honestly, I gave up many a spare minute to sit and read and delve into its world and see how the character’s lives continued. It’s a book you escape into. Full of overly optimistic outlooks and cheery smiles. It may not be very good but it gives you a chance to forget about your own real life for a fleeting minute.

And it’s that escapism that’s the important point, because it wasn’t the narrative but rather the characters that created it and drew me in. Robin Gold has managed to put together a cast that you just want to get to know. They may live their lives in a world that cannot exist but I still wished I could hang out with them. I wanted to share stories and have a laugh over coffee with the main character Clara, or sit in a bar and watch “the game” with her brother.

Gold may not win any literacy awards for the plot but her writing style works perfectly for it. She writes in a very light and easy to follow manner. Creating a book flows with the natural way you speak. Gold fails, however, to ever really change the pace throughout, but it doesn’t seem to matter because it plays out at a pace and rhythm that keeps in it motion so you don’t notice the monotony of its speed. I would say though, that the book is very American. The characters feel from the United States, their accents, and imagery all invoking the mid-American “twang” and stereotype in my mind, but I soon learnt forgot about it and lost all focus on it. It’s not a distraction, it’s just something you notice as you are welcomed into their lives before their personalities take over.

German Cover - Once Upon A List by Robin Gold

I can honestly say that if I had walked past Once Upon A List in a shop I would have turned my nose up at it. I would have walked on past, mentally muttering something about how it was a very gender specific book, but I’m glad they put a balloon on it’s German cover and that I stumbled across it, because, while I’ve read more interesting stories, and better constructed prose, Once Upon A List by Robin Gold told me a story that, I never failed to want to hear.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

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