It’s not that Janey Sinclair isn’t pleased to see her sister, she just wishes she could have arrived in less dramatic style. Being woken up at seven in the morning by Maxine, complete with borrowed wedding dress and police escort, isn’t quite how she’d planned to start her Sunday.
Still, life’s never dull when Maxine’s around, and Janey, who’s rebuilding her life after her husband disappeared eighteen months ago, is delighted that her sister’s back in town. But when Maxine sets her sights on Guy Cassidy, the impossibly glamorous fashion photographer, Janey knows there’s no limit to the mischief her sister will get up to in order to dispatch the competition. But little do they know that the competition is a lot closer to home than they think…
First published: 1994
I have a bit of a weak spot for Jill Mansell’s novels. Back when I was 14 or perhaps even younger I really got into them and bought a whole lot of Jill Mansell pockets and adored them all. They were all in Dutch, so I while I’ve read about 12 or 13 of her novels, I’ve only read two of them in English, one of them being Sheer Mischief. I read a lot les chick lit than I did when I was a teenager, and each time I do pick up one of Jill Mansell’s novels I’m surprised by how much I love them. The same was true for Sheer Mischief, which was absolutely wonderful.
The story is set in a small town near the coast in Cornwall and that in itself is already a plus for me – I love small town stories and I love them even more if they take place in Cornwall! Janey has lived in this town for the better part of her life and is now the owner of a small but thriving flower shop, above which she lives on her own. Her husband used to live there with her, but he disappeared and she still doesn’t know what happened to him. She still dreams of him coming back to her after finally regaining his memory, but she knows it’s much more likely that he has died, or worse – simply left her without saying goodbye.
I loved Janey, she was my favourite character and much more likeable than her younger sister Maxine, who is lazy, somewhat thoughtless and dreams of becoming a big star. Janey has extremely low self esteem and this is only made worse by her sister, who is drop dead gorgeous and knows it. When Maxine finds out Guy Cassidy, the famous – very handsome and single – photographer who also lives in their village, needs a nanny for his two kids, she applies for the job. While she is the worst nanny possible, he is desperate, so she gets the job.
In reality, however, Janey often has to take over for her because Maxine is still trying to get her acting career off the ground and needs to go on auditions. It turns out that Guy and Janey get along very well and they develop a lovely friendship. In the meantime, Janey is getting it on with the town casanova, Bruno, who claims the love between him and his girlfriend has been gone for ages and they’re only together for practical reasons (namely, their restaurant). Janey soon finds out that this is one big lie and the tiny bit of self esteem that she had built up is crushed once more.
This is one of the bigger Jill Mansell novels in terms of actual size (500 pages), but I simply flew through it. Once I start reading one of her novels, I’m unable to put it down. Her writing is witty and fast-paced and made all the characters truly come to life. I did find myself enjoying the parts including Janey a lot more than the parts that focused solely on Maxine, but luckily there were a lot of those! The ending was predictable, but lovely, and I have to say that I didn’t even know right from the start who was going to end up with whom, which was surprising!
If you want a fluffy and wonderful small town read, I’d definitely recommend reading Sheer Mischief. I thoroughly enjoyed it!