Alice is stuck in an internship she loathes and a body she is forever trying to change.
Ben, also in his early twenties, is still trying to find his place in the world.
By chance they meet one day in a London park.
Ben spots Alice sitting on a bench and feels compelled to speak to her. To his surprise, their connection is instant. But before numbers are exchanged, Alice is whisked off by her demanding boss.
20 minutes later
Alone in her office toilets, Alice looks at herself in the mirror and desperately searches for the beauty Ben could see in her.
Meanwhile, having misunderstood a parting remark, Ben is already planning a trip to Glasgow where he believes Alice lives, not realising that they actually live barely ten miles apart.
Over the next 31 days, Alice and Ben will discover that even if they never manage to find each other again, they have sparked a change in each other that will last a lifetime. In 31 Days of Wonder, Tom Winter shows us the magic of chance encounters and how one brief moment on a Thursday afternoon can change the rest of your life.
Sometimes when you approach a book with an open mind you are taken by surprise. I had never read anything by Tom Winter and I wasn’t sure if I would have time to read and review this one. I’m so glad I did.
I loved this book. 31 Days of Wonder is a delightful read. It’s very funny and although some of the humour is quite dark there are lots of poignant and touching moments too.
Alice is a young, hardworking intern at a PR firm who is overweight, who has a boss from hell and colleagues who seem to put her down all the time, making horrible remarks about her weight. She also lives with an awful flatmate. Alice is one of those really nice people who wants to do the right thing and try to please everyone. Her best friend Rachel doesn’t have a job because she is convinced she is going to be a pop star despite being a terrible singer. She’s pretty bossy and expects Alice to help her achieve her dream.
Ben is a young man with mental health issues – he’s impulsive and says what he thinks, but he also has a flatmate who sounds quite sensible and caring. He also has a job. He has been brought up by his grandparents following the death of his parents when he was very young. He knows he has problems.
Ben spots Alice in a park one day – a girl in a yellow dress – and feels compelled to approach her to tell her how beautiful she is but Alice is whisked away by her boss, Geneva, before he can say anything more. But he does hear mention of Glasgow and is led to believe she lives there.
Without too much thought he decides he is going to Glasgow to see her. Despite his flat mate trying to dissuade him, he still wants to go. He seems rather obsessed by Alice who had actually smiled at him. He also starts ‘seeing’ Alice in various places and situations but knows it’s all in his head. He is still determined to go to Glasgow and he sets off on a borrowed bike.
Meanwhile Alice, to get out of something her friend Rachel wants to organise, says she can’t help because she has a date with Ben and from there the ‘fib’ grows.
The story is what happens to both Alice and Ben in the next month (31 days) and how their very brief encounter starts a journey for each of them that will change their lives. Their stories are told separately, each chapter heading telling us how near or far apart geographically they are. The book is funny, sometimes poignant and very entertaining.
There are some great characters, including Neville the parrot, and I felt I wanted to help and encourage Ben and Alice as they slowly come to realise that their lives don’t have to stay the same and that things can be different. Ultimately it is a story that leads to hope and possibility.
[My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy]
31 Days of Wonder is published (hardcover and Kindle) on 10 August 2017.