The Wonder Spot: return of a favourite

Posted by Lou. The time is 8.09pm here in London, UK.

As many of you will know I love Melissa Banks' debut novel A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. Both Bel and Lotte insisted I read it, and I immediately joined the choir. It is one of my absolute all-time favourites, and if you haven't read it for yourself I reckon that you should go track down a copy and read it immediately. So, with this in mind, her second novel The Wonder Spot seemed like the perfect thing to take away on a summer holiday.

The primary thing about The Wonder Spot for me is that the protagonist, setting and world are so similar to AGGtH&F that these short stories could be inserted between those of AGGtH&F with a few name and occupational adjustments to make it fit together. Which is on one hand excellent, and on the other hand a little disappointing. Excellent because it was more of the kind of writing that I loved, disappointing because I had hoped to be surprised and touched in the way I am every time I read AGGtH&F.

For me this one lacked the resonance of the first - it didn't quite draw me in far enough to make me get a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes. It is much more about the protagonist's relationship with her family - two brothers, mother and father - and I do wonder if it would actually connect more with people in a closer (geographically and emotionally) family situation [yes Bel, that is my hint that you read it and report back].

I very much enjoyed reading it, but wouldn't spread the word and insist upon people watching it as I do with AGGtH&F. Read her debut first, and if you love it read this one like you might watch the bonus features of your favourite movie's box-set, or like you might lick up the crumbs of your favourite cake.

A note on the cover: I like the style of the cover, but hate the giant facial image as for me a book should leave it to your own imagination to develop a picture of the character.

One thought on “The Wonder Spot: return of a favourite”

  1. Funnily enough, Lou, I read this years back - Jas leant me a copy!

    Just as you did, I found it an ultimately unsatisfying read. In fact, I immediately re-read AGGTH&F afterwards and found that somewhat tainted (woe!) because the follow-up was so derivative. It took a little of the gloss off as it seemed the author was so blatantly milking the most successful elements of her first gem of a book.

    I remember feeling that the main character being young, female and Jewish lurched into stereotype - rather than adding a fresh perspective or further nuance. AGGTH&F spun the whole 'single girl in the city' genre right around, and Wonder Spot was just too lazy for any of that.

    Icing on the stale cake: the cover of the one I read was in the same style as the cover of my preferred edition of AGGTH&F. Sigh.