My Very '90s Romance: A Novel

My Very '90s Romance: A Novel

by Jenny Colgan

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Overview

From New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan comes a hilarious romantic comedy about a down-on-her-luck florist whose future begins to bloom when she takes on the challenge of helping to transform her nerdy roommate.

Holly is a frustrated florist whose life doesn’t seem to be coming up roses. Fleeing a roommate situation from hell, she moves in with a motley crew of friends—Josh, a sexually confused merchant banker; Kate, a high-flying legal eagle with talons to match; and Addison, a gorgeous computer geek who spends his days communicating with his online girlfriend and anyone who worships at the altar of Jean-Luc Picard. From the moment Holly catches a rare glimpse of Addison, she’s smitten. The only problem is how to get him to swivel his chair from the computer screen to her adoring gaze.

After a series of false starts—involving a new friend and mathematician, Finn—Holly coaxes Addison away from his computer screen and out into the open. While “out in the open” spells disaster for Addison, curiously, her own future begins to bloom. Holly and her friends make desperate attempts to connect with Addison, drag him away from his fiercely possessive girlfriend, Claudia, and get him to communicate with the real world.

With Jenny Colgan’s trademark wit and a cast of unforgettable characters, My Very '90s Romance will capture your heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062449047
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/12/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 144,664
Product dimensions: 7.80(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jenny Colgan is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street Bakery, and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery, all international bestsellers. Jenny is married with three children and lives in London and Scotland.

Read an Excerpt

Talking to Addison


Chapter One

A famous Artic explorer once said that polar expeditions were the most successful form of having a bad time humans had ever devised. Of course, he'd probably never answered an ad for a flatshare with a bunch of complete strangers. Although if it hadn't been for them I would never have met Addison. Hmm. Which, when I think of it, is kind of like saying, OK, I lost all my fingers and toes to frostbite, but I met some very sweet penguins along the way ...

Thirty-six hours after I moved in to 12a Wendle Close, Harlesden, I realized I'd made a terrible mistake. Tiptoeing around someone else's home is weird enough, particularly if it's just after a late night and you can't remember their name or where they keep the Sugar Puffs or, say, you're a cat burglar. Tiptoeing around your own is discomfiting, to say the least. But here I was, creeping into my own house and closing my bedroom door extremely quietly, heart pounding, after only my very first quick jaunt to the shops, to try and make friends with my newsagent and see what flavors of Skips he had.

If I pressed my head against the thin wood veneer of the door I could just about hear my new best friends in the nearby ghastly open-plan Formica kitchenette.

"Well, I think we need a special long-term rotation too. For cleaning the shower curtain and the drawers. And washing the baseboards."

"That's a great idea, Carol," came another voice, deep with awe. "Maybe we could do one big job every Saturday night and make an event of it. We could even get takeaway pizza!"

"And don't forget the curtains!" screeched the unfortunately named Farah, who was about two foot tall and was always being mistaken for a monkey, or Martin Amis. "I'll get my colored pencils out and start drawing it up. This is going to be such fun!"

They all mewed.

"Didn't I just hear Holly coming in?" asked Laura, who was stolid and sat down a lot. "That sounded like her bedroom door ..."

Damn.

"No!" I attempted to telepathically send to them. "It must have been the wind. That ... mysterious bedroom wind."

"... Why don't we go and ask her what she'd like to do?"

I inhaled sharply.

"Yes, let's!" yelled Farah. And there was a pounding at my door.

"Holly? Holly, are you there?"

Carol, official leader of Scary Clean Freaks Incorporated, put her head around the door assertively. Was it only a week ago I had checked out her ankle chain and pondered whether we'd ever get on? She looked at me sneerily. I sensed that she secretly knew of the scientifically proven inverse relationship between me and housework (the more messy things were, the less inclined I was to do anything about them), even though I'd attempted to be pristine for my first few days.

"We were just wondering ..." she hissed.

Laura sniffed, noisily, behind her. Laura sniffed all the time. I always wanted to tell her that it was OK; no one was about to make her do double PE any more. Carol shot an evil sideways glance like a viper.

"Ahem. We were just wondering, given that we're-ha-divvying up the rotation, if there was anything you particularly liked doing."

I eyed her steadily, not about to be intimidated by someone who ringed her lips with dark lipstick pencil on her skin.

"How about I take lightbulb-dusting and big spider removal?"

"Ooh, that sounds good," screeched Farah from somewhere beside my knee. Carol dispensed another one of those Robert de Niro-to-doomed gangster stares.

"We thought you might prefer loos, sinks, and floors," she said pointedly.

"Oh ..." I said. "You mean, all of it."

"Ha." She smiled. "Don't get around to much cooking, do we?"

I realized I'd been outmaneuvered. Blast.

I counterattacked. "What are you doing to do?"

"I'm going to coordinate," she said. Laura nodded happily.

"Oh, tough one."

"... that means I buy all the cleaning materials, arrange the schedule, organize the external cleaning contractors, e.g., the carpet shampooers I've got coming in, arrange everyone's telephone hours, and oversee everyone's painting choices. So we've all got quite enough to be getting on with, don't you think?"

I wanted to try one last stance-perhaps suggesting that Farah take the floors; after all, she was closer-but all I could say was "Telephone hours?"

"I know; I thought of it," Carol said proudly.

"It's a great idea," said Farah, standing between Carol's legs.

"Basically, it means you can only use the phone or get phone calls at your set time each night. Then, when we get the bill in, you pay for all the calls in your time, and nobody lies about the expensive numbers."

I stared at her. "Well, that's going to cut down on my sex-line income."

Laura's eyes widened with shock. Carol laughed politely, to show me that if I felt like fighting her, she was up to it.

"What's to stop me making phone calls on other people's time?"

"We're going to have a phone-lock that can only be opened by me. You come to me when you want to use the phone and I'll see if it's your hour or not. Really," she said, shaking her head, "your chores are much easier than mine, believe me."

"Oh goodness me, I think I just heard my mobile go off," I announced in a flurry.

"Excuse me," I said, when they showed no sign of backing away from my door, "I just have to, ehrm, excuse me ..." Fortunately, the henchmen st**k next to Carol and backed away when she gave the signal, as my next move would have been to scream "F**k off! F**k off! F**k off!" whilst shoving them out the door and pulling a hose on them.

I slammed the door behind them and sat on the bed. My mobile wasn't going off, naturally, but I took it out anyway and thanked this little machine. How could I ever have thought they were only of use to workers on buses who thought that someone not on a bus might want to know when they were on a bus? Oh-and how the f**k was I going to get out of here?

Some people pick the wrong men all the time. I pick the wrong places to live. Well, OK, I pick the wrong men too, but anyway. So it was that after finally getting totally creeped out by my last landlord, in Hackney, who smelled of piss and used to turn up at random hours of the night to "inspect" things (my knicker drawer included)-which followed the three girls in Dulwich who had all joined a beardy-weirdy religious cult and refused to allow men over the threshold, except for the cult leader, with whom they all slept whenever he wanted them to-I had ended up here, in a new house-share with three banana brains who all worked in the local hospital as phlebotomists. Apparently this meant they took blood samples from people. I assumed in Carol's case she simply bit them.

Anyway, they'd advertised in Loot for a fourth member to join a new household in tasty Harlesden, and, amazingly, I got it. Perhaps I was the only one who didn't blanch at the interview, when Laura came in and reported obediently to Carol that she had just bleached the teacups.

"And how often do you boil-wash the crockery?" Carol had asked me.

"Ehm ... I find about every half-hour just about does it," I'd gone for, and noticed her put a big tick on my application form, which had been broken down into sixteen handy sections. The relief of going from the dissipated seediness of Hackney-where they wanted extra rent if you got an inside loo-to a brand-new "executive" flat in the famous industrial waste area of North West London made it seem like a good deal at the time, but had blinded me to the obvious: i.e., all these people were mad-but because they outnumbered me in the house I was beginning to think that they were right.

I began to inspect my mobile for germs, and was getting really close up when it rang in my face.

I shrieked, did a comedy clown fumble, and dropped the phone under the bed.

"Are you all right?" said Carol's voice from just outside the door. She was obviously listening to everything. I shrieked again, swallowed some air, choked, coughed, and managed to wheeze, "Fine, thank you."

"It must be pretty dusty under your bed."

"Yes, yes it is, thanks," I said, sitting upright with the phone. Then I jumped-how the hell did she know where I was? I felt a cold hand of fear.

"Hello?" I finally choked into the phone.

"Do you know, I haven't made a woman scream like that for years," drawled the well-modulated voice.

I relaxed slightly.

"Josh, you have never made a woman scream like that. In fact, have you ever made a woman?"

"Oh ho ho. Yes, of course."

"In your country of origin?"

He paused. "Not precisely."

I'd been teasing Josh about this for as long as I'd known him, which was a l-o-o-ong time. Because he was attractive and also nice to girls, most people assumed he was gay. For someone with a posh background, a good job, and a nice haircut, he did horrendously badly with the opposite sex, which I couldn't understand-not that I'd ever wanted to shag him myself; he was so nice.

Anyway, thank God he'd rung me back. Worriedly searching the ceiling for CCTV, I sat back on the bed.

"Josh, you know when you moved into Pimlico and I said I didn't want to move there because it was snooty London and you were moving in with Kate who hates me?"

"Um, yes."

"Well, you know, how's it ... how's the whole flatshare thing going?"

"It's going fine."

"Right-Great! Right. How's that other guy you got in to fill the space doing?"

"Addison? He's just great ... Well, quiet and undemanding."

That didn't sound much like me. "Uh huh. So no one's moving out or anything, then?"

Josh sighed. "Don't tell me. Not another Turkish Lesbian Women's Collective?"

That had been Hoxteth, two years ago. I'd been kicked out for not liking chickpeas and buying that symbol of male forced dominance, sanitary protection.

"No. Worse."

"The cat lady?"

"Christ. No, not worse than her. But still, pretty bad."

I heard Carol's voice: "Holly! Would you like some tea? Because it's your turn to make it!"

I ignored her.

"Josh, this is absolutely desperate. Listen, you know that little boxroom you were going to turn into a study?"

"The one you described as a coffin?"

"Yup, yup, that's the one. Ehm, have you ...?"

"Turned it into a study? Not since you were last here. I've leased it out as a bedroom, though."

"Nooo!"

He laughed.

"You bastard! Josh, I know this is a huge favor-and please say no if you don't want to-but please, please, please can I come and live in your coffin? I mean, boxroom?"

"You've asked me this before, Holl," he said with a sigh.

"I know."

"Then you always dash off and the next thing I hear from you you're on the run from a postgraduate mathematics badminton team."

"I know. I'm crazy."

"You are crazy. Why didn't you just move in when I bought the place?"

"Because you're rich and Kate makes me miserable."

"I am not rich, and Kate can't help being ... Kate. Anyway, if that's how you feel ..."

"No, no! I'm sorry! Please. Please. Please."

There was a loud knocking at my door. "Tea, please, Holly! It's in the lease!"

"It's the Gestapo!" I whispered. "How soon can you come and get me?"

"I'll have to check with Kate and Addison."

"Josh!" I screeched, near to tears. "Please."

"OK," he relented. "I'll pick you up at about seven. Have you got much stuff?"

"Just a coffinful."

"And no diving off again, do you hear me?"

"Yes, sir," I mumbled meekly.

I could have snogged Josh, I was so pleased to see him. I wanted to grab hold of his legs round the ankles and sob with gratitude and pour unguents over his feet. Or was that glue?

Carol had not taken the news well, particularly when I retrieved my deposit check from the shiny silver box to which only she had a key (I distracted her by upending her coupons box all over the kitchen floor, then making a dive for the key when she bent over). In fact, she had advanced on me until her face was only a few inches from mine-well, her makeup was. Her face was probably about a foot away.

"Think you can just do what you like round here?" she asked menacingly.

"Yes, I do, actually. That's why I don't live with my parents anymore."

"So who's going to take your room? You've got to sort that out."

"Ah. Yes, well ... I'm afraid you're going to have to sue me for my friends and acquaintances. Here, I've written down my forwarding address on this piece of paper." I waved it reassuringly. It said: 1 Holly Lane, Hollywood, 0171 555 5555-"and don't forget to send those bills on to me!"

"We won't," said Carol grimly.

Laura opened and shut her mouth like a fish. "Well, I think it's disgraceful the way you're leaving Carol in the lurch like this," she announced, quivering. "All the trouble she's been to."

"And me!" piped up Farah from somewhere around my ankles. "I did the schedules!"

"I'm sorry," I said. "My best friend's got cancer. I'm nursing him till he dies."

Laura backed away, crestfallen.

"I'm so sorry," she muttered.

"Oh really?" said Carol. "What kind?"

I couldn't think. "Ehm, nose cancer?"

"You're sick," she said, turning to march out of the room.

"So are you!" I yelled after her.

She turned once more, her brutally permed hair a weapon. "Well, at least I'm clean and sick."

Fortunately, Josh's sporty little Spitfire had turned up, and he was honking enthusiastically. Josh did everything enthusiastically.

I tore out of the house.

"Where the hell am I going to put anything?" I wailed, after hugging him overaffectionately, then examining his twoseater.

"I'm so sorry, darling. I meant to trade Bessie in for a Volvo but, you know, I just couldn't find the time."

"Ha ha ha. Listen, would you mind sitting on my duvet?"

He looked at me.

"Well, it's not like real sex, is it?"

It took us an hour and a half to crawl back into town. Even though it was only April, Josh insisted on having the roof off, so I had to hang on to everything I owned, like an earthquake refugee.

"Freedom!" I yelled into the air. "I am never going to move into a crappy flat again."

"Except for the one you're about to move into."

"Josh, it could be a shed at the bottom of the garden, I don't care! I'm freee! "

"OK, steady on," said Josh, obviously worried I was about to start leaning dangerously far over the bonnet and singing "My Heart Will Go On."

There are two schools of thought concerning the children of parents who divorce nastily just as you're approaching puberty. One school says, Well, life is like that-chin up, and maybe the seething atmosphere at home will spur you into staying late at the library and moving on to better and brilliant things in an attempt to pull yourself out of the flotsam. Lots of famous people have divorced parents. They overachieve for attention. That wasn't exactly my school.

The other school says you should instantly become ?bertruculent and demanding, and put everything you do your entire life down to your bad upbringing.

Continues...


Excerpted from Talking to Addison by Jenny Colgan Copyright © 2001 by Jenny Colgan . Excerpted by permission.
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