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11 November 2013

Review: 'The Debt and the Doormat' by Laura Barnard (2013)

Poppy and Jazz have been best friends from the first week of university. Whenever these two get together trouble isn’t far away and things haven’t changed much. When Jazz gets herself into financial trouble Poppy, being a good friend, offers to help. She instead ends up being talked into swapping lives, with Jazz insisting it will be good and help her get over her broken heart.

Poppy is thrown into a new life, full of crazy housemates. There’s fitness freak Izzy, horrendously beautiful bitch Grace and the slightly gorgeous, if not incredibly grumpy Ryan.

Quickly, with the help of Jazz, her life is thrown upside down. Madness ensues and her need to please everyone gets her in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Before she knows it she’s got a fake boyfriend and is hiding so many secrets she’s scared they’ll spill out any minute. With a bullying boss, a sex crazed colleague, a mental mother and three brothers each with their own dramas, life has gotten pretty difficult for Poppy. And all of this would be much easier, if she could just stop falling over.

Will she get her life back to normal before her brother’s upcoming wedding? And will she want to?

Laura Barnard contacted me several weeks ago about reviewing her debut chick lit novel, ‘The Debt and the Doormat.’ Even though the title didn’t immediately tell me what kind of novel I could expect, the blurb quickly showed me that the book is about two best friends who decide to swap lives. I really liked this idea and was looking forward to finding out more about Poppy and Jazz, so within a few days I found a review copy in my mailbox to get lost in!

‘The Debt and the Doormat’ focuses on two best friends named Poppy and Jazz. The two girls have known each other since their first year at university, and even though they have their differences, they have been inseparable ever since. Poppy is the more sensible and organized one, while Jazz leads a crazy fun-filled life without any rules. When Jazz manages to get herself into thousands of pounds of debt, Poppy wants to help her friend out and they decide to swap lives. They change homes and make a pact that whatever the other tells you to do, needs to be done. Poppy soon finds herself living with Jazz’s roommates, including the gorgeous but slightly grumpy Ryan. Her life is turned upside down within a matter of days, the question is: is this really what she needs to loosen up a bit, or was her old lifestyle not that bad after all?

I really liked the plotline of this novel; Poppy and Jazz have a great friendship and I loved how Poppy is willing to help out Jazz, no matter what. The swapping of lives results in some funny and crazy situations, which made me laugh out loud quite a few times. There’s an interesting mix of characters at the core of the story; Poppy and Jazz seem to be complete opposites but make the best of friends, there are the roommates Izzy (a sweet girl who is a complete fitness freak) and Grace (the ultimate bitchy beautiful one), and of course, Ryan, the grumpy but handsome male in the house, for whom Poppy seems to have a soft spot from the first time they meet. There’s friendship, crazy situations, and a touch of romance; a great mix for a chick lit novel.

Even though the plot was easy to follow, I couldn’t help but feel like the novel was written more like a TV show than an actual book. Most of the chapters started with a new event or situation starring the group of characters, making it feel like all these separate episodes of a TV show instead of flowing like one story. I also noticed some traces of the TV show ‘Friends.’ The book has a lot of potential, with an enjoyable storyline and a good mix of characters, but somehow it felt like a collection of events to me, instead of an actual novel. Overall, ‘The Debt and the Doormat’ is a light and fun read that focuses on best friends and what happens when they decide to pull themselves out of their comfort zone, resulting in some predictable but definitely enjoyable situations which undoubtedly many readers will be able to laugh at or even relate to.


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