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Watching Willow Watts

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For twenty-five-year-old Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: whilst the elderly residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation is uploaded to YouTube.

First published August 14, 2011

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About the author

Talli Roland

18 books304 followers
Talli Roland writes fun, romantic fiction. Born and raised in Canada, Talli now lives in London, where she savours the great cultural life (coffee and wine).

Despite training as a journalist, Talli soon found she preferred making up her own stories--complete with happy endings. Talli's debut novel The Hating Game was short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, while her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as an Amazon Customer Favourite. Her novels have also been chosen as top books of the year by industry review websites and have been bestsellers in Britain and the United States.

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland. Talli blogs at talliroland.blogspot.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica Bell.
Author 68 books458 followers
August 21, 2011
I received an advanced review copy of this at the perfect time. Right when I needed a good laugh and pick-me-up. Ultimately, this is a 'feel good' book. But woven into the intelligent narrative, dry humour, and moments worthy of good old a belly laugh, is a subtle melancholy. Of course, this melancholy is not prominent, and is often completely overridden by Roland's remarkable skill at bringing the funniest elements of a scene to the surface, but it's there--lingering in the background. And cleverly done so too.

There are moments in the book where you feel like you're at a big party, and all attention is on you, then someone says something insulting to you, that everyone else seems to think is funny. Of course, you try to save face by laughing along and pretending that the comment didn't hurt. But it did. Deep down. But you wouldn't dare let it show, would you? Because your reputation comes first, and if people knew how you felt inside, no one would like you anymore.

This book is ultimately about following dreams. But not dreams of success. Dreams of just being accepted for your plain old self. It really makes you realize that fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. And that happiness comes from being true to oneself.

Watching Willow Watts is a must-read. Because sometimes you can get a lot more than just entertainment out of chick-lit than one would typically think. Talli Roland is a talent to say the least. And I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Profile Image for LindyLouMac.
849 reviews61 followers
September 13, 2011

Well the date has arrived; tomorrow September 14th is the official launch day of Talli Roland’s much awaited second novel. Talli is one of the new generation of writers that understands the importance of an online presence for an author. She certainly went to town with the launch of her debut novel The Hating Game clicking on the title will take you directly to the review I wrote last year. I said it in my last review but will say it again, Talli Roland is a very enterprising young woman that totally understands the importance of publicity. She made a successful job of promoting her last novel and I think that she will do so again this time. Readers who enjoyed her debut are in for a treat as within its genre she has written another sparkly lively modern novel that will appeal to many. For fans of light humoured and easily readable modern women's fiction, love stories with a happy ending than Talli Roland is a name to watch out for.

Once again this young author has come up with an original story line, this time about a Marilyn Monroe look a like, who discovers by playing Marilyn that one of the most important things we learn in this life, is to be true to ourselves.
Our heroine gives her name to the novel and it starts as Willow leaves behind her successful London career as a florist to return to Belcherton, England’s ugliest village, to care for her recently-widowed father. Her life has become rather mundane helping her father in his struggling antiques business. At the local village fete her best friend gets her to dress up as Marilyn Monroe, just for a bit of fun. Before they know it someone has posted a video on You Tube and everything escalates out of control in double quick time as Marilyn mania takes over village life. Surrounded by a fascinating cast of characters including the ghastly Jay who becomes her agent, Willow totally embraces the character of Marilyn. To find out how this all works out for our heroine you will have to read the book for yourself.
Having lived for many years in an English country village, some of the descriptions of the events and characters had me giggling at how well she has captured the essence. Talli obviously has a tremendous sense of humour which has shown through in both of her novels so far. For her humour alone I recommend her writing to you, but even more so if you are a fan of chick lit style romantic fiction.

For much more information, including an invite to the party please visit LindyLouMac's Book Reviews
Profile Image for Georgina.
92 reviews88 followers
September 19, 2011

“No one could make you fulfilled and happy except yourself”, is the premise and message behind Talli Roland’s latest novel Watching Willow Watts. In today’s society so many people are desperate to become famous in anyway they can, especially with the introduction of You Tube. Fame, is not all that it is hyped up to be and it is great to see a novel that shows some of the pitfalls and what really happens once the fame takes hold. As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew that I would be hooked and once I received this novel I was excited to get started.

Willow Watts, is a normal girl living in a predictably dull routine. She spends her days working in her dads antique shop and her nights staying in watching TV. Willow lives in a boring village filled with old aged pensioners with the title of Britain’s Ugliest Village. Willow’s life is suddenly turned upside down when a You Tube video of Willow impersonating Marilyn Monroe becomes an overnight sensation after the viewers spot Marilyn’s ghostly image in the video. Willows life and the small town she lives in are thrown into chaos with fans flocking from all over the world to see ‘the new Marilyn. Willow embraces her new identity, gaining weight to achieve Marilyn’s curves and changing her entire look. When Willow’s former love Alex returns to the village she must decide if she wants to focus on fame or revert back to her old self in order to find happiness

Talli Roland has come up with a individual, unique storyline, which I have not seen done before. I really enjoyed the way she took this quirky idea of someone becoming a You tube sensation and what happens afterwards. I felt that with this storyline Talli was also able to create characters that were relatable and fell into pace with the story. I loved the characters of Dickie, Willow’s father and Bett’s, the Marilyn Monroe fan from America. I especially enjoyed when these two characters were interacting together. I found them extremely likeable and also very funny at times. I hated the character of Jay, he is absolutely vile, doing everything for his own gain and not caring in any way about anyone else. You are expected to hate Jay from the beginning, right through and you will be hoping along the way that someone manages to put him in his place. Willow is also an interesting character who you will feel for throughout the novel. Willow is also very family oriented, which I loved.

My only issue with the novel was that I felt at times as though Willow was a little too naïve. All of us make mistakes in life and make decisions without having all the facts, however I felt as though Willow went into a lot of situations with her eyes closed. I would have liked to see Willow as a little bit of a stronger character. For example Willow falls out with her best friend over Jay and decides to believe what Jay has to say over her best friend, Paula. Willow and Jay have only known each other for a few days, therefore I don’t believe it is realistic for a woman to believe a guy she has just met over her best friend.

Watching Willow Watts is a funny, heart-warming, unique story, that will have leave you unable to put the novel down. I finished Watching Willow Watts is one weekend and did not want it to end. I will now be running to the store to purchase The Hating Game, Talli Roland’s previous novel, in order to read more of her delectable writing. I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a fun unique take on chick lit.

Profile Image for Rea Cobb.
416 reviews650 followers
October 8, 2011
I seem to be getting my reading Mojo back and have flown through my latest book! It did help that it was a really enjoyable read. I have just finished Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland, this book is available on kindle with the official launch on the 14th September, but not to worry for all of you paperback lovers this will be available in paperback on 30th November.

For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and nights watching TV, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.

Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.

But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

My Opinion
The heroine in this book who is Willow Watts is such a natural character. From the moment we first meet her we instantly form a bond with her and I think it is because she is so genuine and selfless that we warm to her so much. Throughout the whole book you always see her putting everyone else’s welfare before her own wants and needs. There are a real mix of characters in Watching Willow Watts all who seem very friendly and relaxed this is all bar one character, Jay who turns up to become Willow’s agent and from the moment we meet him there is an instant dislike and we know what he is aiming to do but poor Willow is unaware of his actions.

The storyline to this book is very light-hearted and flows at a perfect pace, I was hoping to see a little more of the relationship between Willow and her ex-boyfriend but this is just me being greedy and a hopeless romantic!

I love the way Talli Roland creates a traditional little country town where everything is very ordinary and the community all come together, and then decides to throw in the whole Marilyn Munroe thing in which you would never expect in such an ordinary town. I think when something big and pink arrives in the town this is when it all felt a little bizarre!

I would defiantly recommend this book and after reading this one I would now like to read her previous novel The Hating Game. Both of her books have very bright eye catching covers so you can not miss them!
Profile Image for Shaz Goodwin.
796 reviews130 followers
August 20, 2011
The story starts at the village fete where we are introduced to the characters. Willow’s best friend Paula is running a stall where fete visitors dress up as a celebrity and have their photo taken. Paula talks Willow into dressing as Marilyn Munroe, Simpson (who is the village tourism rep) makes a video which gets uploaded onto YouTube … and this one incident sends Willow’s life into a whirlwind of activity and emotions.

Belcherton explodes with visitors wanting to see Willow and along with this influx of people arrives agent Jay. Jay, who on the surface is very supportive of Willow but underneath is controlling and hungry for revenge (and money!). Amongst the visitors to the village we meet Betts who has stepped out of her comfort zone and come to the UK from Georgia. She stays with Willow and her father and becomes an integral part of their lives.

Another character central to the story is Cissy. A retired former actress living on the outskirts of the village, she has met Jay in the past. She is not happy with how things are working out for Jay.

The characters in Watching Willow Watts are so believable. You become involved in either rooting for everything to turn out well or wishing for their downfall.

Behind Willow’s decisions all the time are considerations of others - money her father owes or in supporting the village to become more than Britain’s Ugliest Village. She puts her own feelings aside. When Jay enters the village she is in a vulnerable position emotionally so it is entirely believable that she only sees what is on the surface. If you’ve read my reviews you know that I love watching a female heroine make the journey from being down-trodden and insecure to becoming her own person … and we certainly see this for Willow.

Watching Willow Watts is a wonderful emotional ride. We have all the elements of love, friendship, family, community and revenge to keep us absorbed. You won’t be disappointed in accompanying Willow on her journey as the iconic Marilyn Munroe!

I would like to thank the author for providing me a review copy.
Profile Image for Nikki Bywater.
406 reviews13 followers
August 31, 2011
Willow Watts lives in the small and very quiet village of Belcherton in the UK, having moved back there from living a good happy life in London, where she had graduated from a prestigious flower school in Knightsbridge after doing really well and landing a great job in Liberty’s. She had made the decision to return to Belcherton to be there for her father who since her mothers death seems not to be coping too well and Willow finds out his business is in debt. She is living a quiet life in the village where nothing much happens.

When Simpson Dyer the head and only member of Belcherton’s tourist board is making a film to promote Belcherton and attract more visitors he films Willow dressed up as the icon Marilyn Monroe and he puts the film on You tube with a grey image of the real Marilyn’s face floating in the background. Willow finds herself an instant internet sensation when the post gets thousands of hits and starts trending due to a comment a fan of Marilyn posts claiming it to be the ghost of Marilyn! Thousands of fans follow suite and after the clip is shown in the media fans of Marilyn start descending to the usually quiet Belcherton, even going as far as to setting up a campsite. Even after seeing Willow in the flesh they all go on believing that she is the essence of Marilyn.

Jay Bellamy introducers himself as a hot shot London agent who wants to sign Willow to work and earn good money being Marilyn and Willow sees this as the answer to helping clear her fathers debts.

Betts Johnson is a massive Marilyn fan who is unhappy with her life she flies over to Belcherton from America to come in search of finding her idol.

Will Willow lose her own identity and become Marilyn?

Is Jay all he claims to be?

Will this not only change Willow’s life but the people who are closest to her?

A fantastic funny read that is entertaining from beginning to end. A brilliant storyline.
Watching Willow Watts is one to watch out for!
Profile Image for Margo.
1 review
August 28, 2011
I am thrilled to be writing a review of Talli Roland’s enchanting new book, having adored The Hating Game. I was drawn in straight away and couldn’t put the book down!

Willow Watts, a gifted florist beginning to make a success of her business in London, has returned to the weary village she hails from to care for her widowed father and his ailing antique shop. Life for her and the village takes a bizarre turn when the ghostly image of Marilyn Monroe is seen in an otherwise embarrassing YouTube video of Willow, performing at the local fete. Events move quickly to transform Willow into the new Marilyn, make her a star and save the shop.

Talli Roland has written a wonderful cast of characters, from a devoted best friend, a ruthless charmer, a warm and loving Texan, to an eccentric band of elderly locals and we see Willow fighting to find herself in the midst of both adoration and exploitation. The parallels with Marilyn herself are worked in beautifully.

An aspect of Talli Roland’s writing that I love is that, amongst the pace and frivolity, is pure pathos and heart. Characters overcome past hurts and discover inner strengths and talents they didn’t know they had.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read more Talli Roland.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 10 books58 followers
December 16, 2011
Like Talli's other book, this was a refreshing, original read. I'll try to review this without giving away spoilers.

It's a story about Willow regaining her dreams, and taking her life back. The plot maybe a little far fetched - would thousands of people really believe Marilyn had chosen Willow? - but it works in fiction and make believe if you allow yourself to be carried away into Willow's world.

Compared to some romance that I've read, the hero is not featured heavily in the book (but this is what maybe makes it chicklit/women's fiction?). Personally, I do like more presence from the hero because for me romance is about the conflict, and the two of them working it out together. We see the hero more through flashbacks in Willow's thoughts. However, the concept of this story was just fun, making me want to carry on reading and find out what happens.

How will Willow get out of her contract with Jay?

Talli has a wonderful way of telling a story. It's sharp, witty, and different with a fast pace and style that makes you want to keep on reading. Oh and there is no sex (on the page), only behind closed doors - just so you know.
Profile Image for Ann.
14 reviews
October 27, 2011
I was thrilled to receive an advanced review copy of Talli Roland’s newest novel, “Watching Willow Watts.”
Willow has left her life in London to look after her father and help with his declining antique business.
I fell in love with Willow Watts as she forced herself to swallow her neighbour’s kumquat marmalade at the village fair. Her best friend, running the celebrity dress up booth insists she put on the “musty smelling white satin dress” and platinum wig. Willow ends up in a video that goes viral on U-Tube. And so begins Willow’s foray into the world of show business as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.
Talli Roland does an excellent job creating this cast of characters and pulling them altogether. Each one is touched by the ghost of Marilyn in some way. Willow realises she likes herself as she impersonates Marilyn. An American divorcee discovers she is more than a doormat to her children. An aging reclusive actress gets her revenge. Willow’s father, a widower finds a new zest for life. An agent gets his comeuppance and a town gets a new lease on life.
This is one fantastic good read. Well done Talli. I love, love, love Willow Watts.
Profile Image for Janice Horton.
Author 15 books120 followers
September 2, 2011
Ever since reading and really enjoying The Hating Game back at the start of the year, I’ve been really looking forward to Talli Roland’s next book. Watching Willow Watts is a fantastic up-to-the minute story involving a UTube video, instant fame, and how Willow Watts handles it all while impersonating Marilyn Monroe. The characters in the story are all so well portrayed, especially Willow, who is a kind and generous soul who goes along with all the craziness for all the right reasons. The pacy events of the plot tumble forward, carrying the characters and the reader along in what is a fun and emotionally compelling storyline. The ending is beautifully wrapped up and it is with great satisfaction that he who took advantage of Willow’s trusting nature got his deserved comeuppance in the end! Well done Talli Roland on yet another fantastically entertaining read.
Profile Image for Amy.
136 reviews
November 11, 2011
This was my first Talli Roland book and it definitely is not my last. Watching Willow Watts is a story about how many times we feel fame and fortune will get us everything, but rarely is this the case. When a person gets caught up in being in the spotlight, they lose a sense of who they are, as Willow Watts does in this story.

I love how Talli weaves a string of characters into one story, from a money hungry lousy talent agent, a loving best friend, a woman who wants to see justice done, a warm southern woman from Georgia, and a girl (Willow) who only wants to take care of her father and his business, but move ahead in the world too.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of Talli Roland's books.

Profile Image for Karen.
Author 7 books121 followers
August 25, 2011
From the first chapter I was hooked. Willow is a dear person, having left her dream life back in London to care for her widowed father and his dusty antique shop. The characters in this forgotten village are well-drawn, and I chuckled throughout at their odd and endearing ways. The Marilyn scenes are hilarious. Skinny Willow trying to maneuver about with her stuffed booty had me laughing out loud.

You've got romance, humor, friendship and a villain you love to hate: Talli Roland has a real winner in Watching Willow Watts. And we all better be watching Talli Roland, because she sure knows how to write Chick Lit!
Profile Image for M.W. Arnold.
Author 6 books119 followers
September 11, 2017
What to say about Willow Watts?

Firstly, and I make no apologies for this, she resides in the most wonderfully named location in any book (or film I’ve seen for that matter) I’ve ever read. Belcherton! The name says it all and it’s backed up by being noted as Britain's Ugliest Village. So, huge kudos to Ms Roland for going against the grain of ‘picture-perfect-postcard-settings’.

Willow Watts is your everyday lady, so even more kudos there, with a determination to save her widowed father’s Antiques shop from financial ruin, so she gives up the passion of her life, working in a big department store’s flower department to move back to the aforementioned Belcherton. Illustrating the power (and gullibility) of humans to believe what they see is something entirely different, she finds herself being a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, locked into a long-term contract by one of the sleaziest characters you’ll ever come across.

Step aside ‘Childcatcher’ and give your best ‘boo’ and ‘hiss’ to Jay Bellamy, for whom the word ‘Sleazebag’ was born. Enough about him, read this story and you’ll know exactly what I mean! It’s only with the aid of her friends and family that……all ends up as it should in the end. Ha! If you were waiting for me to give spoilers, or anymore of the story away, then bad luck, though if anyone who’s read my other reviews knows, I don’t like giving away more than I can, preferring to leave it up to those about to read to find out what happens for themselves.

I’ve read a few of Ms Roland’s novels and I can’t believe I’d missed this one. Am I pleased I’ve corrected this? Of course, it goes without saying. Talli has a knack of painting imagery with words that has the ability to relax the mind and transport you into the locations and situations she’s writing about. Simply put, this story was a delight. Put the kettle on, grab a little of what you fancy and settle back to be entraced.
Profile Image for Melanie Robertson-King.
Author 15 books70 followers
January 27, 2022
What a fun read! I was looking for something light-hearted, and this book didn't disappoint. I've read other books by Talli Roland and loved them, so I knew I would enjoy this one, too.

The characters were believable and likeable - well, maybe not one of them - and the settings were well described.

I'll definitely be reading more by this author.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,583 reviews293 followers
September 7, 2011
When I read a very early copy of Talli Roland’s debut novel The Hating Game last year, I was in love. It was a very original novel with a brilliant plot and insanely wonderful characters. So I was pleased to see Talli would be releasing a second novel and after reading the synopsis for Watching Willow Watts, I was hooked and I couldn’t wait to read it. When Talli emailed me an early copy for my Kindle I was deliriously happy and very eager to start reading it. I’d just finished a previous novel on my Kindle so I was all set for a new read (evidently, Talli knew that!) and Watching Willow Watts was that read.

The plot of Watching Willow Watts is something else entirely. It’s just as brilliant as The Hating Game as Willow Watts dresses up for Marilyn Monroe for a joke at her village’s fete and the subsequent YouTube video ends up going viral as people proclaim Willow is the ‘New Marilyn’. Soon, Willow’s little town, Belcherton, is over-run with Marilyn fans clamouring for a piece of Willow, including supposed uber-agent Jay and Marilyn obsessive Betts. And as Willow sees her being the ‘New Marilyn’ as a way to make money for her heart-broken dad, well, what’s a girl to do? I thought Talli executed the main plot perfectly. I loved Willow’s ascent to fame (and, be warned, you will have to suspend your beliefs when reading the novel!) and I liked that Willow was so selfless that she really only wanted to do it to save her dad’s antique business from failing. It’s a brilliant plot, and one Talli had thought out perfectly.

The novel’s downfall, for me, was Jay. It began and it ended with Jay, the agent who sees Willow and decides she’ll be his ticket back to the big time. Him coming into the novel didn’t exactly ruin it for me, but it did send the novel onto a track well-rehearsed. There was an exchange mid-way through the novel where Jay hit on Willow’s best friend Paula, not knowing they were best friends and whilst he was sleeping with Willow. Paula told Willow, but because Jay had told Willow Paula would probably be jealous, Willow believed Jay and not Paula. It wasn’t necessarily all downhill from there, but it was like a familiar record had come on and I knew exactly how it was all going to pan out. It saddened me. I’m sorry but if there’s one thing I HATE in Chick Lit it’s when supposedly sane women choose their new man over their best friends of many years. It drives me nuts. Plot device or not, I truly hate it. Because in real life that just wouldn’t happen. I couldn’t perceive any time in my life that I would ever believe a boyfriend over a best friend and it keeps happening in Chick Lit and I keep rolling my eyes.

I liked the majority of the characters. Willow, it has to be said, was absolutely nothing like Mattie, Roland’s heroine from The Hating Game. Mattie would eat Willow for breakfast, frankly. I must admit, I was expecting another Mattie-type character because there’s a big, big lack of female characters like Mattie, most are Willow prototypes all meek and mild and although it’s good and it works… It does get a bit boring after a while and I thought Roland had tapped into a wonderful character in Mattie and wished she had done the same to Willow. I mean, Willow wasn’t horrible, she was rather lovely, but her gullibility and her naivete bit. I liked her but I also wanted to give her a clout. I loved Paula, Willow’s best friend, she was very forthright and I was inexplicably sad when Willow shut her down. I also really liked Willow’s dad, along with Betts, the American Marilyn-obsessive. I couldn’t stand Jay, the agent, I wanted to make him disappear. I hated him and it’s rare I say that.

Watching Willow Watts was infinitely different to The Hating Game and for me it just wasn’t as good. The whole idea was there and most of it was executed perfectly, but the colour-by-numbers with Jay/Willow/Paula was just horrible for me. When I’m reading a book it’s never a good sign when I’m thinking of how I would do it differently and after the whole incident with Willow and Paula I was consistently wondering how I’d have done it, personally. I was also surprised at the lack of romance. The synopsis mentions Willow’s ex coming back, but he’s featured in about 10 pages total, most of them coming near to the end with just one solitary appearance somewhere in the middle. I know why that was – it was part of the plot, but the synopsis was rather misleading there as I was expecting more. I did enjoy the novel, don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t as good as The Hating Game. It didn’t have the same oomph. I wanted it to blow me away like The Hating Game did, but sadly it didn’t. The first half of the novel was excellent and then it all just descended into a type of Chick Lit novel I’ve seen time and time again, which made me sad. Talli is a brilliant novelist and has some wonderful book ideas and I will be on the lookout for her next novel but Watching Willow Watts wasn’t as good as her debut novel.
Profile Image for Philippa.
93 reviews10 followers
December 26, 2011
This will now be the second time I have written this review! As the first time my computer crashed and I lost it all!
Anyways –
I’m not a huge reader of the chick-lit genre. Usually, I tend to read more ‘serious’ fare. But occasionally every girl(/woman) needs a little escapist easy reading, where some sort of happy ending can be expected. All that said – I’m not really one for hugely trashy, overdone romances. Where the characters are too flat, obvious and the women ‘need’ a man to solve all their problems. All this being said I had read Talli Roland’s first novel (The Hating Game) earlier in the year (in my pre – GR days hence no review) and been hugely impressed. Her female lead had been smart, witty and capable. She had been flawed and stubborn and had plenty of problems to contend with but she wasn’t just waiting around for someone to try and fix them for her. All in all I had been impressed and when I saw this new book come out I had purchased a copy almost straight away for the next time such a read was required.
All in all my expectations were not disappointed!!
Willow Watts has moved back home to a fictional sleepy little village in Gloucestershire after the sudden death of her Mother, in order to care for her Dad and has ended up giving up on many of her dreams and plans. Including her intention to one day run her own flower shop in London. By a bizarre twist of events her life is thrown into complete upheaval after a video of her dressed up as Marilyn Monroe makes it on the internet and suddenly scores of Marilyn fans believe Willow has been appointed by the famous blonde herself as her ‘successor’. Suddenly an overnight sensation, Willow has to learn how to deal with her celebrity and ultimately has to determine how and as who she wants to live her life.
Whilst Willow is perhaps not as strong-willed a character as that in Roland’s first book she is a very believable one, possibly slightly more likeable (or should I say easier to like straight from page 1) and I think plenty of women would be able to identify with her and her motivations. Roland also has incredible skill with plot and characters as you really come to care about them and do find yourself immersed in the story. On this note I think the fact that I read this entire book in one day speaks volumes! The plot is beautifully crafted to move along at just the right pace, keeping you constantly hooked and this isn’t a book with unnecessary ‘filler’ everything adds to your understanding of the characters, their backstory and the events of the novel. Also what I love is the complete absence of awkward sex scenes, which often chick-lit authors seem to use purely to boost the word count!
Ultimately, I would say that Talli Roland is an author to watch and I definitely plan to read more!
Profile Image for Michael Di Gesu.
11 reviews5 followers
September 22, 2011
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go from a passive, simple life only to be thrown in the mixed of paparazzi and adoring fans as a U-Tube superstar?

Willow Watts certainly does. Innocently donning on a cheap bleached-blond wig and a stretched out moldy dress for a local charity event in the small town of Belcherton, Willow is coaxed into singing Marilyn Monroe's signature "Happy Birthday Mr. President" song.

Filmed by the head of the town's tourist board, Simpson Dyer, who is desperate to put his dull, non-descript town on the map, doctors up the film by adding a picture of the real Marilyn floating through Willow's performance.

Willow cringed at the whole production, hoping to forget about her humiliation and find a way to help support her father's dying antique business.

Simpson posts the video on U-Tube, claiming it would help in exposing the world to Belcherton. At first his plan failed with only two hits all morning. Then one comment posted and changed all that. This one comment about Willow being picked by the ghost of Marilyn Monroe to be her predecessor ignited a four-alarm-fire. Later that day the hits rolled into a hundred thousand and growing.

People from all over the globe flocked into Belcherton to pay homage to the "New" Marilyn. Of course, this was the last thing Willow expected and couldn't believe any of it.

This is just the beginning of Willow's new "life." As you can well imagine, with success brewing and endless opportunities on the horizon, Willow encounters all sorts of people good and bad.

Jay Bellamy slithers into town. A has been agent, trying to land Willow for his next client. Jay's only thoughts focus on taking full advantage of Willow's naivete. Slick, good looking, and oozing with charm he sets out to seduce WIllow any way he can. Will she fall for his charms and be his next victim?

Across the great pond, in Carter, Georgia, Bette Johnson, relaxed in her living room, sipped Dom, and thought about her idol Marilyn Monroe. Pushing sixty, she felt a closeness to Marilyn Monroe. Her hum drum life as a newly divorced woman left a lot to be desired. As she listened to the news a reporter excitedly spilled out information about the "New" Marilyn discovery. Betts in on a plane the next day for Belcherton, England and a new adventure.

Now you ask, what could possibly happen next? You might guess correctly, but then ... you might not? You don't want to miss out on Roland's charming tale of what Watching Willow Watts is all about.

What I loved most about Talli Roland's new novel? Her cast of characters. She paints rich, detailed, funny, crazy, lovable and most of all, memorable people who kept popping up throughout the story, starting with Willow's BFF and local beauty parlor owner, Paula.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not an avid reader of "Chick Lit," I would have to say Talli might just make me one. So download your copy from Amazon or Amazon UK. You will have a blast this weekend with some new literary friends.

Profile Image for June.
251 reviews
March 13, 2012
Willow is a plain lass, living a rather humdrum life in Britain's Ugliest Village, Belcherton (fantastic name!) having moved there from London following the death of her mother and split from her boyfriend. All plods on uneventfully until she dresses up as Marilyn Monroe for fun at the village fete and is recorded and subsequently uploaded to YouTube by the village's resident Mr Tourism, Simpson Dyer (again, another fantastic surname - it reflects the state of the village). Within a short space of time, Willow is a global phenomenon, with die-hard Marilyn fans invading Belcherton to see her in the flesh. In time, Willow realises fame and fortune isn't all it is cracked up to be.

Talli has produced some fantastic characters: Willow, the naieve, plain-Jane, skinny, wannabe florist who is slowly stagnating whilst helping her father in his antiques shop; Paula the rock-chick hairdresser; Betts Johnson, the "blubbery" American; Matthias the trying-to-be-trendy journalist; Jay Bellamy....oooh what can I say about Jay.....the novel's baddie. His plots and schemings are very clever, and when he hires himself to be Willow's "agent" you just KNOW it will all end in tears!

I love Talli's humour in this novel. There were times I laughed, and there were times I cringed at how stupid Willow could be! Overall though, this is one feelgood book - not only in following Willow, but also relishing in the demise of Jay as well.....

I think if this novel was to be made into a film, the soundtrack would have to be Chesney Hawkes "I am the one and only, there's nobody I'd rather be...."

This was the first book by Talli I have read, and I absolutely loved it; and have now also downloaded her other novels "The Hating Game" and "Build A Man" onto my Kindle.

Thanks for a fab read, Talli.
Profile Image for Samantha March.
1,102 reviews285 followers
September 23, 2011
Willow Watts was just starting to make something of herself when everything changed. She was living in London, working to become a well-known florist, happy with her boyfriend and her life, when her mother passed away. Willow felt she didn’t have any other choice but to move home to the village she grew up in to watch after her father and his failing antique shop. She lost her wonderful boyfriend, her budding career, and a little piece of herself after moving back home. Her once thriving life had become mundane, even with her best friend Paula to keep her company. But Willow’s life gets turned upside down after a video of her dressed as Marilyn Monroe hits YouTube. She becomes an instant sensation, and even has a hot shot agent from the big city knocking on her door. Will Willow be able to handle the pressure that comes with fame?

I had a lot of fun and many laughs while reading Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland. With so much of our society now focused on celebrities- and people becoming famous for no real reason- I thought this book really showcased how that can happen, and what a person feels like when the fame and attention is unwanted. Willow is such a shy girl, who really just wants to help her father, his business, and make an honorable dollar. But the lure of money and being able to pay off the business debts is one that she simply can’t ignore. I think that is something many would be able to relate to. I did enjoy that while most of the book is from Willow’s perspective, readers will also get to dive into Willow’s agents mind as well- the slimy Jay. Watching Willow Watts is made up of a bevy of fun and interesting characters, which made this book interesting to read throughout. Light-hearted, humorous, and a sweet happy ending made me a happy reader!
Profile Image for Denise Covey.
Author 11 books22 followers
August 30, 2011
I adored this fun read by Talli Roland. It is both zany and poignant. I love the bizarre descriptions of English village life as Willow leaves her London career as a florist to return to Belcherton, England’s ugliest village, to care for her recently-widowed father.
The story gets underway with the ghostly image of Marilyn Monroe hovering over a You Tube video of Willow doing a dreadful impersonation of the icon. She is practically an overnight sensation and on her way to stardom, complete with sleazy agent.
Sleazy agent Jay is just one of a cast of characters beautifully fleshed out by Talli, from her bestie, Paula, her father, her ex-boyfriend, and a loving Texan who arrives on the scene and of course, the eccentric band of locals.
The novel moves along at a frolicking pace, as Willow is both adored and exploited, much as was Marilyn Monroe herself. Amidst all the Marilyn mania, Willow’s goal is always to secretly save her father from bankruptcy in his dusty old antique shop. He confounds her by filling it with tacky Marilyn memorabilia, and confounds her further by actually selling it to the fans who’ve arrived to see the incarnation of Marilyn. Talli brings the sense of the ridiculous to the story, revealing her ‘inner comedian’.
All jokes aside, what I got from Watching Willow Watts is that individuality is to be treasured. Self acceptance is to be celebrated and happiness lies in being true to oneself.
This is chick lit at its best. Talli Roland has written more than just pure entertainment; she has connected with our hearts, a rare talent. Looking forward to her next novel.
Profile Image for Cherie.
Author 29 books115 followers
September 12, 2011
Talli Roland's WATCHING WILLOW WATTS shines like a bright star in the chick lit world.

Willow Watts never imagined dressing up as Marilyn Monroe for her best friend's celebrity picture booth would change her life. When her imagine is up on YouTube and appears sanctioned by Marilyn's ghost, Willow goes viral. Marilyn's fans proclaim her as the new Marilyn and everyone is clamoring to make a pound, including Willow. As the new Marilyn learns what fame means, Willow discovers the truth in who she is and what she's willing to sacrifice for happiness.

Talli Roland excels in quirky, unique novels. Willow Watts transforms on the page and inspires not only her small village in England but the world around her. Fame is fickle and tiresome. The romances of the secondary characters were sweet. I cheered as Willow discovered it was better to be herself than anyone else. Roland breathes life into her characters. I cried, laughed, and felt a deep passionate hatred for Willow's you-know-who, also known as the agent. The only minor distraction for me as a reader was in the portrayal of Betts the American, who didn't sound like she was from Georgia sometimes. Overall, I loved how the 'new Marilyn' inspired the village and changed it for the better.

Talli Roland's WATCHING WILLOW WATTS is a must-read with unforgettable characters, a unique storyline, and a beautiful message that being who you are is better than being anyone else.
Profile Image for Jen Daiker.
Author 6 books36 followers
August 23, 2011
Talli Roland is adorable with this wonderful new novel. Even if you aren’t a fan of Marilyn Monroe you’ll be rooting for Willow Watts all the way.

Willow is so relatable right from the opening scene – trying to be nice to neighbors, leaving something behind she loved to take care of her dad, the obstacles we experience in life that are brought to life. So when Willow is given the opportunity to save her dad’s shop she takes on the challenge, even if she’s the farthest thing from Marilyn Monroe.

From beginning to end you’ll be rooting for each character and the struggles they’re looking to overcome. With so many wonderful characters Talli is amazing at intertwining each one of them together in rough situations as you watch it all unfold. Belcherton may have, at one point, been the ugliest village, but that’s all about to change as Willow goes on the adventure of a lifetime all to save the predicament her family is in.

Watching Willow Watts will leave you empowered, ready to take on the world, and know that happiness is sometimes found in the most unexpected places.

If you’re looking for fun, flirty, and full of laughs Roland is your go-to-gal! So get your cocktails ready because you’re sure to join in on the fun with Willows journey.

Profile Image for Agi.
1,531 reviews85 followers
February 8, 2012
First of all, I'd like to thank Talli for everything. And she knows what for:) I guess she is the only author that is taking so good care of people who want to read her work. So big, big thank you.

The book itself. Talli picks topics that I have not read in the books yet. And this book made me actually think. It was not a no - brainer (again, no offence, I need no - brainers as well!!!!) but a book that really make people think: what they do, how they do and why they are doing it.
Maybe there was a little to little action but it was okay. I really liked all the characters (well, obviously I hated Jay:)) ), Willow was so warm and nice, although sometimes she was so naive that I just wanted to kick her, but there was no aggression in her, she was just a girl who wanted to help her father and live her life. Paula was really a good friend, and all the other people from the village were so, so nice, I'd like to have such neighbours:) There was a little of Alex to me, reading first the summary that said about the old boyfriend coming back I have expected much more of him.
And perhaps the ending and losing the whole situation came to easy but anyway, it was a really good and different book.
Profile Image for Deniz.
Author 5 books7 followers
September 8, 2011
Talk about chick lit at its best!

I don't usually read this genre, but I've been very lucky in the ones I do read. They've always:

a) been British; and

b) come at just the right moment, when I'm on vacation or simply need a book to unwind with.

Who can forget Carole Matthews' Let's Meet on Platform 8 or Claire Calman's Love Is A Four Letter Word?

And now I've got a new favourite - Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland.

Featuring the charming, down to earth Willow, hilarious one line send ups about small village residents (not to mention the village itself - named Belcherton!), and a host of varied secondary characters, Watching Willow Watts is a fast-paced, sweet yet daring story.

Roland subtly introduces the reader to Willow's world, deftly raises the stakes, and there's no way to put the book down. You've just got to find out what happens next. I was almost late for work one morning as I couldn't stop reading!

She has a knack of making you care for each character's fate, right down to that of Krusty the rooster. I've already started thinking about which actors could play Betts, and Dickie, and Willow herself...

Don't miss out!
Profile Image for Lisa Maliga.
Author 55 books15 followers
August 30, 2011
Talli Roland has created a warm and likeable titular character in her second book, "Watching Willow Watts." The reader feels lots of sympathy for Willow as she's trying to keep her widowed father's antiques shop from going under. Not only does she miss her mother, but also the life she led in London. The Willow of two years ago was happily working as a florist and was in a relationship with an architect.

The action starts early and never lets up. Willow is reluctantly turned into a Marilyn Monroe impersonator due to a tourist board organizer who uploads a video onto YouTube that goes viral. The quiet village of Belcherton becomes the latest place for an international deluge of Marilyn fans to congregate. Suddenly, locals are making money and Willow realizes that she can get her father's business out of debt.

But as she's transformed into Marilyn by a smarmy agent, we wonder how all this will play out ...
Profile Image for Medeia Sharif.
Author 18 books426 followers
November 6, 2011
Willow Watts is a sweet young woman who left London to live with her widowed father in a small England town. When she impersonates Marilyn Monroe and becomes a Youtube hit, people think she's not only an impersonator but the spiritual incarnation of the Hollywood star. The village turns topsy-turvy with the media attention. Then a shady agent hones in on Willow to transform her further into Marilyn, romance her, and swindle her. Willow falls for his lies because she wants to help her father get out of debt. Under her agent’s guidance, her hair is bleached and parts of her body are artificially plumped, and the line between Willow and Marilyn blur. There are other storylines interwoven in the story when Willow experiences longing for an old beau and her father falls for an American Marilyn fan. I loved how everything fell into place for Willow, but I won’t reveal too much. This is a fantastic chick lit book full of humor and heart.
Profile Image for Arlee Bird.
17 reviews3 followers
September 21, 2011
In this short novel Talli Roland tells a blithe tale about when ordinary people are confronted with big changes. The storytelling is skillful and told with humor and heart. The characters are portrayed realistically with no airbrushing or cosmetic cover ups--we see the good and the bad and love or detest them for who and what they are.

The message in the book is a good one portrayed in an entertaining way. The story deals with people with empty spaces in their lives that need filling. Roland examines how people try to fill the empty places by living vicariously through the lives of others on YouTube and reality TV.

This is a easy read that is uplifting and funny. The story drives home the positive message of acceptance of self and living life instead of just watching others live theirs.

Tossing It Out
Profile Image for Lynn.
61 reviews2 followers
August 26, 2011
Watching Willow Watts is a fun, laugh-out-loud read interwoven with sweet spots that warms your heart and makes you want to hug your best-friend. With witt and charm, Talli Roland creates an unforgettable character in Willow Watts, a small town girl turned over-night star via, of course, u-tube. Willow's motivations to become a star are pure, wanting to help out her dad's ailing business and her town's low reputation. But stardom comes with a cost, even with the best intentions. And not everyone has as pure a heart as Willow, as she soon learns. Roland develops villians and heroes with characteristics so vibrant that when reading it was like I was watching a 3D movie. I highly recommend Watching Willow Watts but must warn you, Roland keeps the suspense high so when you start you will not want to stop reading!
Profile Image for Rosie.
61 reviews22 followers
September 8, 2011
First, I want to say that I love Talli Roland's style of story-weaving. Her creativity never ceases to amaze or amuse me. The sense of humor in each scene always keeps me laughing. Several moments in this story move toward dark humor, and maybe I'm not laughing out loud then, but I'm still entertained and ready to read more.

The story progresses through several weeks as Willow Watts struggles with her own identity and her new life as Marilyn Monroe. One of many facets of this story that make it great is Willow's strength and perseverence through these tough times. We can all take a little something from Willow's strength, which she finds within herself throughout the story.

If you like a good, fun ChickLit tale, you should definitely read this (and anything else by Talli Roland).
Profile Image for Joo.
397 reviews
August 26, 2011
Now that's what I like, a 100% Chick Lit book. You know exactly what you are going to get. A darned good read.

I was going to save this for holidays next week, but I thought I'd read a page or two. Next thing I knew was I'd finished it and it was dark outside.

It's the story of Willow Watts who, after living in London for a while, goes back to her small village to live with her dad and gets caught up in whirlwind after appearing on You Tube.

It was a great read. The story just flowed and even though Willow is extremely naive, I liked her and the other characters.

Is it too early to ask when your next book is out Talli? I want more
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