Fast-paced, dialogue-driven and immediate, for me, I am Ella. Buy Me is reading firmly outside my comfort zone, a million miles from my usual fair of half-forgotten, almost-classics and literary mysteries.
Slightly anxious about participating in my first blog tour, I was even more dubious when the book arrived. Its design, shiny cover, unusual format, and open-type face all screamed “this is not for you”, very loudly. So I didn’t embark on reading I am Ella. Buy Me with any expectation of pleasure or reward but rather somewhat fearful that I would hate it. And for the first few pages, I did. There is hardly a pleasant character in the novel, and the lovely Adam and the wise, warm and gentlemanly Wally don’t shine through until later on: I found it hard to warm to characters who measure their self-worth by the length of their car or who thought it acceptable to wash their smalls in the office.
For all these initial misgivings, I am Ella. Buy Me won out as an enjoyable read. It is at times incredibly funny. Crackling dialogue dances off the pages, bringing otherwise half-realised characters sharply into focus with depth and realism. No book has made me laugh so much since reading Isabel Lodasa’s The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment, albeit in a very different way. And there are some cameo scenes to die for- such as Wally dressing up in Ella clothes and then teaching her to dance, or Ella and Adam in the kitchen scoffing the dessert that Adam’s stuck up girlfriend is planning to serve to the her dinner party guests!