When I was four years old, all I ever wanted was to have a weeing Tiny Tears doll. I’d never been into dolls really, but when my best friend was given one for her birthday, I decided that a doll that cries actual tears and wets itself was exactly what my life lacked.
* * *
Published by Penguin in May 2013
Sophie May has a secret. One that she's successfully kept for years. It's meant that she's had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop.
But then she meets the gorgeous Billy - an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy's glamorous - but ruthless - world.
Their relationship throws Sophie right into the spotlight after years of shying away from attention. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy? And most of all, is she ready for her secret heartbreak to be discovered and shared with the nation
* * *
Reviewed by Caroline Hodges
Billy and Me is Giovanna Fletcher’s debut novel and she takes to writing like a duck to water. Protagonist Sophie May is a quiet, somewhat shy village girl working in her best friend’s tea shop when the village is invaded by a film crew shooting a new version of Pride and Prejudice. Her peaceful life is sent in a new direction when the teen-heartthrob playing Mr Darcy chooses the tea shop as the ideal place to learn his lines.
I don’t often dip my toes into ‘chick-lit’ novels, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The ‘girl next door’ theme I’m sure is probably tried and tested, but I think what brings this novel to a new level is experiencing, alongside Sophie, the celebrity world that Billy inhabits. We get to experience the glamour and excitement of the BAFTA’s but also the loneliness of dating someone who’s ‘day job’ is actually night shifts at the theatre. Sophie is entirely likeable and far far more forgiving than me that’s for sure! It’s lovely to see her blossom as the story unfolds, bringing forth a person that is self-assured enough to stand up for herself when needs be.
Best friend Molly also stands out as a character. Despite being far older than Sophie, their friendship is really something to aspire to; where even when the levels of give and take are out of balance, they’ll do anything for each other.
I think what cinched Billy and Me as a novel I’ll remember is the ending. I felt that Billy was entirely wrapped up in his world and, like Sophie, I wasn’t sure there was any space for her in it. Without giving too much away, I think I was pleased with the realisations they both came to. I think at it’s heart, Billy and Me is a wonderful exploration of the different types of relationships, from romantic to family to friendship. I found myself rooting for every main character in it - something which I think is usually quite hard to achieve in a novel written in first person perspective.
I’d completely recommend Billy and Me, and what better time to pick it up than as the summer holidays approach?