Leah's Reviews > An Autumn Crush

An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson
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Sep 19, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: for-review, books-read-2011
Read on September 20, 2011

Milly Johnson isn’t an author that’s very high up on my radar. I read her debut novel The Yorkshire Pudding Club a long while back (and really liked it!) and I have three of her books waiting to be read, but she doesn’t necessarily appeal. I know I shouldn’t read books on what I think of the author, but I just don’t seem to get a good vibe from her; a while back she posted about bad review and she has done that a couple of times now and I don’t personally like it. I find it insulting that just because someone didn’t like a certain book, they should be made to feel bad about that. I will happily admit that I really don’t like authors who complain about bad reviews, and it really puts me off them; I can’t help it, it just does. It immediately puts me on edge with the author in question and it makes me want to write a bad review (I know, I am ever so mature…). So I’ve always put Milly’s books to one side. Until her recent book. I figured I was being unfair, and since I enjoyed her first novel, what was stopping me putting aside personal feelings to read her new book?

An Autumn Crush, for me, was only OK. I mean, I almost gave up when I was about 80 pages in because it just wasn’t going anywhere I wanted it to. It was one big mash-ball of a) Juliet hating Steve for no discernible reason b) Floz liking Guy but thinking Guy doesn’t like her and c) Guy liking Floz but screwing up so that Floz thinks Guy doesn’t like her. It was all a bit comical, actually, and that continued way too far to be reasonably believable. There were credible plot lines to be had – Steve’s alcoholic mother, Floz’s old flame reappearing… but instead those were pushed to one side in favour of Guy making a prat of himself at every available opportunity and for me to believe Juliet was, frankly, a cow. The writing got better, no doubt about it, and I no longer wanted to slam it against a wall or throw it over the barranca, but the story just wasn’t there. There was nothing substantial to the book other than Steve, Juliet, Floz and Guy possibly acknowledging they like each other and possibly doing something about it. And it was the “possibly”s and the “not-going-to-happen-ever”s that was rather insipid because it just felt as if the book wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry as the characters were all rather stuck.

I’m sorry, but I find it hard to believe that after 30 years of solid, solid dislike Juliet would suddenly hop into bed with Steve and find him to be the most attractive man ever. It didn’t wash with me, and the speed with which it happened was somewhat surprising. I mean, she goes on and on and on and on and on about how Steve is flash and a man with a million girlfriends and he’s not someone she’d ever like… and then she’s in bed with him. Juliet spent the entire novel trying to find a boyfriend, that was her reason d’entre. That was her entire plot. Floz’s storyline however, bore more fruit. Despite its predictability and despite knowing exactly how Floz’s new-old flame was going to work out (it’s blindingly obvious to all but Floz, apparently) I liked it. It was one of the better parts of the book. I also found Coco to be a breath of fresh air (despite his hideous name). I’d have liked him to have been more prominent than he was – as the story is told in third person, Johnson could have easily segued off to Coco’s home/work life at certain parts.

A strange thing about the book was the way Floz was so reticent about her life. The synopsis of the novel (the one on the back of the book, not the one above which makes no mention of it) says Juliet and Floz “deepen their friendship” which, to me, I figured would mean Floz would be more honest about her past life before she met Juliet, but there was none of that. Sure, they shared the odd bottle of wine and takeaway and did as flatmates do, but there was a large lack of sharing on Floz’s part which I feel was a bit unrealistic; if you make a new friend sure you’ll be wary a while, but after a while, you talk to the person, get to know them better, tell them about yourself and it made me kind of sad Floz didn’t do that with Juliet and, instead, Juliet was left in the dark. Juliet might have been a bit of a cow to men but she was always lovely to Floz but a friendship can only go so far when it’s so one-sided, and that was a shame. That friendship should have been built on more in the book because it was something I’d like to have seen more of, rather than Floz just brushing everything off and continually saying she was “fine”.

So, no, it seems An Autumn Crush didn’t necessarily work for me. The lack of plot somewhat killed it; I like a love story as much as the next person – two is even better, but when both are as damp as squibs then I’m not so interested. Johnson has writing talent (though no one should use the word “alas” outside of Harry Potter and never should you be allowed to say “two pops” in a sentence when it should be “two glasses of pop” because “two pops” does not make sense in any kind of language, not even Yorkshire-language). I’m kind of sad (and also worried, because this isn’t exactly a glowing review…) I didn’t enjoy the book, but it didn’t really work for me. It needed a bit more “oomph”, a bit more to it than four people who spend an Autumn falling in love and making stupid fools of themselves in the process. A plot like that can work, of course, no doubt about it, but this one just didn’t. I never felt connected, never felt part of the novel and I still cannot believe Juliet seemed to flick a switch and suddenly find Steve attractive. You don’t hate someone for that long and then love them. It’ll be a hit with Milly’s long-time fans, of that I have no doubt, but I dunno, it just didn’t push any of my right buttons and there’s nothing I can do about that.
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Reading Progress

09/20/2011 page 317
76.0% "I don't think this is my cup of tea. Way to go Leah, two books read since you're ill and neither really work for you..."
09/20/2011 page 417
100.0% "Nothing REALLY happened. Sigh."
02/18/2016 marked as: read

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