Thinking of You

Thinking of You

4.4 37
by Jill Mansell

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author delights readers with a poignant story

When Ginny Holland's daughter heads off to university, Ginny is left with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. To make matters worse, the first gorgeous man she's laid eyes on in years has just accused her of shoplifting. So, in need of a bit of

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author delights readers with a poignant story

When Ginny Holland's daughter heads off to university, Ginny is left with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. To make matters worse, the first gorgeous man she's laid eyes on in years has just accused her of shoplifting. So, in need of a bit of company, Ginny decides to advertise for a lodger, but what she gets is lovelorn Laurel. With Laurel comes her dangerously charming brother, Perry and the offer of a great new job, and things begin looking up...until Ginny realizes that her potential boss is all too familiar. Is it too late for Ginny to set things right after an anything but desirable first impression?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
U.K. chick-lit author Mansell (To the Moon and Back) returns with a hefty tome devoted to single mother Ginny Holland’s attempts to cope with the fact that her only child, Jem, has moved away to start college. Ginny, who’s decided to take in a roommate to alleviate her loneliness, is elated after the handsome Perry Kennedy responds to her ad, only to find herself rooming with his sad-sack sister Laurel instead. Ginny feels even more betrayed when her bestie Carla takes up with Perry after she introduces them to each other. Meanwhile, Jem begins falling for her rich cad landlord, Rupert Derris-Beck, much to her mother’s dismay. Ginny turns her attentions to the attractive Finn Penhaligon, an antiques dealer/restaurateur, but he may still be besotted with his beautiful, gold-digging ex, Tamsin. While the book is a fun read, the sheer number of characters and plot points can overwhelm, and the story hinges too much on coincidence and mistaken impressions. There aren’t any deep messages here, and Mansell takes the easy way out with a preordained conclusion. Agent: Jennifer Unter, RLR Associates. (May)
From the Publisher
"Humorous, sometimes poignant... Her breezy style resembles that of Sophie Kinsella or Helen Fielding, and this is one reprint (2007) readers will be delighted to rediscover or enjoy for the first time." - Booklist

"Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use the same common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior." - Kirkus

"Fantastic humorous view of the life of an empty nester. This story grabbed my attention from page one and kept it until the end. Reviewer Top Pick" - Night Owl Reviews

"Jill Mansell has never let me down and she delivers once again with a light and entertaining read that had me laughing and smiling from beginning to end." - Life in the Thumb

"Jill Mansell combines, humor, friendship, romance and betrayal... keeps you wanting more." - Fresh Fiction

"Highly recommended, especially for escapist, beachy-type romantic reading." - Bookfoolery

"Will touch your heart, make you laugh, and even make you cry..." - Charlotte's Web of Books

"An enjoyable read from first page to last... All the characters are so wonderful." - Long and Short Reviews

"Jill Mansell writes in a way that makes you want to pack your bags and move to England. " - Romancing the Book

"It's a feel-good book, but then it's a Mansell book and I would have been surprised if it had not ended with a smile on my face." - Book Girl of Mur-Y-Castell

"Genuine, funny, and touching." - Bibliophilic Book Blog

"I love how Mansell's heroines are endearingly flawed women to whom I can relate in some way... In Thinking of You, she has created a sweet tale about the bonds between mothers and daughters and the power of female friendships." - Diary of an Eccentric

"Beyond the fun, faulted characters, Mansell has a gift for humorous and witty dialogue that will leave readers in stitches... Mansell excels at creating relationships that are dynamic and complicated." - Savvy Verse and Wit

"Jill Mansell wrote another winner with Thinking of You and I highly recommend it. It is a perfect "beach read."" - Laura's Reviews

"Mansell never fails to deliver." - A Bookworm's World

"Humor, entertainment and a satisfying story." - Under the Boardwalk

Kirkus Reviews
In British Mansell's 11th novel a lovable ditz approaches an empty nest, a new job and a pathological roommate with comic charm and a dash of courage. Ginny didn't think Jem beginning university would be so difficult. And when she drives three hours to Bristol on a lonely whim, she finds Jem happily absorbed in her new life at school with flatmates Lucy and Rupert and a job at the local pub. In response, Ginny decides to revamp her social life. In quick order, she finds a job waitressing at a posh restaurant and antiques center (owner Finn is moody and gorgeous) and puts an ad out for a roommate (she's imagining chick flicks and nights together at the wine bar). Everyone who applies for the spare room is awful, but then Perry Kennedy shows up, handsome and flirtatious. When move-in day comes, he pulls a bait and switch, claiming the room was meant all along for his sister Laurel, who's been a bit down since her breakup with Kevin, and would Ginny mind watching that Laurel takes all her meds. Before she can say no, Perry asks her out. So begins Ginny's not-so-fabulous new life, caretaking sad-sack Laurel, dating Perry when she can pin him down and fretting over Jem, who she rightly suspects is sleeping with the obnoxious Rupert. When Perry and Ginny's best friend, Carla, begin an affair, Ginny is heartbroken--not over slick Perry, but losing Carla is almost unbearable. Thankfully she has Jem and Gavin (her ex-husband, who was terrible at marriage but is quite nice as a friend) and Finn to cheer her up. In fact, Finn may be just the person to appreciate Ginny's quirkiness, if only his ex didn't show up expecting a reunion, perhaps ruining Ginny's happy ending. But never fear, for the large cast of characters, bright days are ahead, even for mopey Laurel. Mansell is like a Michelin-rated chef: She may use the same common ingredients, but under her sure hand the results are deliciously superior.

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Meet the Author

With over 5 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny romantic tales for women in the tradition of Jilly Cooper and Catherine Alliott. She worked for many years at the Burden Neurological Hospital, Bristol, and now writes full time. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

If it was sympathy she was after, Ginny Holland might have known she'd come to the wrong place. Then again, it was early on a bright but blustery Saturday morning in October and her options were limited.

And it was only over the road from her own house, which was handy.

"I can't describe how I feel." She clenched a fist, pressed it to her breastbone, and shook her head in frustration. "It's just so... so..."

"I know exactly what it is. Bird's-nest syndrome," said Carla.

Ginny pulled a face because it was so screamingly apparent that Carla didn't have children. "Bird's-nest syndrome would be the name for the state of my hair. I have empty-nest syndrome. My nest is empty, my baby has flown away, and I just feel all hollow inside like... like a cheap Easter egg."

"Well, I think you're mad." Carla was busy executing Olympic-level sit-ups, her bare feet tucked under the edge of the cream leather sofa, her hair swinging glossily to and fro. "Jem's gone off to university. You're free again. You should be out there celebrating. Plus," she added as an afterthought, "Cadbury's Creme Eggs aren't hollow; they're full of goo."

"Unlike you," Ginny pointed out. "You're heartless."

"And you're thirty-eight, not seventy." Having completed her five millionth sit-up, Carla raised her legs in the air and, without even pausing for breath, began bicycling furiously. "I'm a year older than you and look at me; I'm having a whale of a time! I'm in tip-top condition, men can't resist me, and sex has never been better. I'm a woman in my prime," she concluded. "And so are you."

Ginny knew her life wasn't really over, of course she did, but Jem's departure had nevertheless knocked her for six. She'd always been so happy and busy before now, so endlessly occupied, that this was a whole new experience for her. Nor did it help that it was happening as winter approached. Most of the jobs here in Portsilver were seasonal and she'd just spent the last six months being rushed off her feet working in a café down on the seafront. But the tourists had gone home now, Jem was in Bristol, and Ginny was finding herself faced with way more spare time than she was used to. To add insult to injury, two other female friends had separately moved in the last month, her favorite wine bar had been bought up and turned into a noisy haven for underage drinkers of alcopops, and the Latin American dance classes she'd so enjoyed attending had come to an abrupt halt when her dance teacher had slipped doing the samba and broken his hip. All in all, it hadn't been the best October on record. And as for Carla telling her she was a woman in her prime... well, she could end up being sued for false advertising.

Glancing at her reflection in Carla's glitzy over-the-top Venetian mirror, Ginny puffed away a section of overgrown bangs that were falling into her eyes. The aforementioned bird's-nest hair was long, blond, and wavy-with-a-definite-mind-of-its-own. Sometimes it behaved, sometimes it didn't, and she had no control over it either way. Face-wise, it wasn't as if she was a wrinkled old prune-if anything, Ginny knew she looked young for her age-but in glossy magazine world there was still plenty of room for improvement. It would be lovely to be as chic, groomed, and effortlessly femme-fatalish as Carla but, let's face it, she simply couldn't be doing with making all that effort.

"You need to get yourself together." Carla finished bicycling in the air, miraculously not even puce in the face. "Cheer yourself up; get out there and have an adventure."

"I'm just saying I miss Jem." Ginny hated feeling like this. She had never been needy in her life; the idea was as horrifying to her as suddenly developing a penchant for wearing puffball miniskirts.

"She'd want you to have an adventure," Carla said reasonably.

"I know." Ginny tugged at a loose thread on her sweater sleeve. "But I really want to see her."

"Fine. Go on then, if that's what you want to do. If you think Jem won't mind." Rising gracefully to her feet and automatically checking her sleek, serum-fed hair in the Venetian mirror-yep, still perfect-Carla said, "You've made a hole in that sleeve, by the way."

Ginny didn't care; it was a manky old sweater anyway. More importantly, she'd got what she'd come for. "Right, I will."

"Will what?"

"Drive up to Bristol to see Jem. It's a great idea!"

"Now? Shouldn't you give her a ring first? She's eighteen," said Carla. "She could be getting up to any number of naughty things."

To humor Carla, Ginny said, "OK, I'll call her. You have a lovely weekend and I'll see you tomorrow night when I get back."

"I always have a lovely weekend." Carla patted her flat brown stomach. "I'm a woman in my prime, remember?" Smugly she added, "Besides, Robbie's coming round."

Robbie was the latest in a series of interchangeable pretty young boys Carla favored for their fit bodies, floppy hair, and... well, un-floppy other bits. The last thing she was looking for was commitment.

"Right, I'm off." Ginny gave her a hug.

"Give Jem my love. And drive carefully on the motorway."

"I will."

As Ginny let herself out of the house, Carla said, "And don't forget to phone first. She might not be pleased to see you."

God, best friends could be brutal. If Ginny hadn't been so excited, she might have taken offense.

But that was Carla for you; she wasn't a mother so how could she possibly understand?


"Mum! I don't believe it-how fantastic that you're here!" Jem's face lit up as she launched herself like a missile into her mother's arms, hugging her so tightly she could hardly breathe.

Oh yes, that was a good one.

Or: "Mummy, oh my God, this is the best surprise ever... you don't know how much I've missed you..."

Whoops, mustn't make herself cry. Deliberately banishing the happy scenarios her imagination had been busily conjuring up, Ginny blinked hard in order to concentrate on the road ahead. The journey from Portsilver in north Cornwall up to Bristol took three and a half hours and so far they were on schedule to arrive at one o'clock. Luckily, Bellamy enjoyed nothing more than a nice long ride in the car and was lolling contentedly across the backseat with his eyes shut and his tongue out. Every time Ginny said in her excited voice, "Who are we going to see, Bellamy? Hey? We're going to see Jem!" he opened one eye and lazily wagged his tail.

If Ginny had owned one, she'd have been wagging hers too.

It was three weeks since Jem had left home. Ginny had braced herself for the worst but hadn't braced nearly hard enough; the aching void where Jem had once been was a million times worse than she'd envisaged. Her daughter was the most important person in her life; it was as simple as that.

As she drove toward Bristol, Ginny scrolled through some of her happiest memories. Marrying Gavin Holland on her eighteenth birthday... well, it may have been a mistake, but how could she possibly regret it when between them they had produced Jem?

Giving birth-gasping her way through ever more agonizing contractions and threatening to knock Gavin's teeth down his throat when he said plaintively, "Ouch, could you not squeeze my hand so hard? It hurts."

Holding Jem at long last and sobbing uncontrollably because the rush of love was so much more overwhelming than she'd imagined, particularly when you considered that the squalling creature you were cradling in your arms was covered in blood and gunk and slime.

Then later, tiny starfish fingers grasping the air... the first magical smile... the first day at school ("Mummy, don't leeeeave meeeee!")... and that look of blind panic on Jem's face after posting her letter to Father Christmas because what if he got her muddled up with the other Jemima, the one with sticky-out ears and glasses in Miss Carter's class?

Oh yes, there were so many perfect moments. Ginny's smile broadened as each one in turn popped into her mind. She and Gavin had separated when Jem was nine and that had been sad, of course it was, but it truly hadn't been the end of the world. Gavin had turned out not to be the settling-down-and-staying-faithful kind. Nevertheless, he'd always been a loving father and had never once let Jem down. And Jem had come through her parents' separation and subsequent divorce wonderfully well, taking the inevitable changes in her stride.

From that time on, Ginny and Jem had become truly inseparable, as close as any mother and daughter could be. Even the dreaded puberty hadn't managed to spoil their relationship and Ginny knew she'd got off lightly there; while other teenagers grew rebellious and sulky and slammed doors off their hinges, Jem had retained the ability to laugh at herself and hadn't lost her sparky, sunny nature. It had always been the two of them against the world.

At that moment a wet nose touched Ginny's left arm, and Bellamy, his head poked between the front seats, licked her elbow.

"Oh, sorry, sweetheart, I wasn't thinking." Concentrating on the road ahead, Ginny gave his ears an apologetic rub. "How could I forget you, hmm? The three of us against the world."


The traffic on the motorway was light, and by ten to one, Ginny was on the outskirts of Bristol. Jem hadn't been keen on moving into the halls of residence. Instead, she'd got on the phone to local property agents, arranged a day of viewing back in September, and decided on a flat-share in Clifton with two other students. This was where Ginny had helped her to unload her belongings from the car three weeks earlier, prior to the arrival of the other flatmates.

Now she was crossing the Downs heading for Whiteladies Road, the location of Jem's flat on Pembroke Road indelibly printed in her mind and drawing her toward it like an invisible umbilical cord.

Actually, that conjured up a bit of a yucky image. Maybe not. Ooh, now that looked like an interesting Mexican restaurant over there on the left; maybe she and Jem could try it out this evening. And if Jem's flatmates wanted to join them, well, the more the merrier. As she indicated right and turned into Apsley Road, Ginny imagined them in the buzzy restaurant, all sitting and laughing together around a table bristling with plates and bottles of ice-cold beer, the others exclaiming, "You're so lucky, Jem. I wish my mum was as much fun as yours!"

Whoops, mind that bus.

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