All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (Audiobook) by Sarra Manning

on December 12, 2017

You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me
Sarra Manning
Narrated by Julie Maisey
Whole Story Audiobooks
2011, 18hrs 15m
Purchased personal copy from Audible

Blurb {from Goodreads.com}:

Sweet, bookish Neve Slater always plays by the rules and the number one rule is that good-natured fat girls like her don’t get guys like gorgeous, handsome William, heir to Neve’s heart since university. But William’s been in LA for three years, and Neve’s been slimming down and re-inventing herself so that when he returns, he’ll fall head over heels in love with the new, improved her.

So she’s not that interested in other men. Until her sister Celia points out that if Neve wants William to think she’s an experienced love-goddess and not the fumbling, awkward girl he left behind, then she’d better get some, well, experience.

What Neve needs is someone to show her the ropes, someone like Celia’s colleague Max. Wicked, shallow, sexy Max. And since he’s such a man-slut, and so not Neve’s type, she certainly won’t fall for him. Because William is the man for her… right?

Months ago when I was sick I signed up to an Audible membership, downloaded a book with my free credit and then promptly forgot about it until recently. I logged in to discover I had 4 credits and a twitter conversation with a couple of bookish friends led to a very firm recommendation of this book. I read the blurb, decided it was definitely my thing and downloaded it immediately. I found it a good way to pass the time on school pick up days, particularly the days I have to leave early. I can get in a good hour. This is my first time reviewing an audiobook because I’ve never really completed one properly before. The one I listened to when I was sick I’d already read before so skipped to a lot of my favourite parts. I also kept falling asleep whilst listening and would wake up hours later to find it still going.

That never happened with this one. I’d listen to it for an hour during school pick up and an hour at night and it took me about 8 days to finish it. On the last day I must’ve listened to about four hours though, because I was so keen to find out what happened and how things were going to be made right again. This book had sooo many feels!

Neve has, over the past few years, lost an awful lot of weight. A lot. She is determined to be a size 10 (at the time of the book she’s about a size 14) before William, her crush from Cambridge returns to England from his posting in the United States. William doesn’t know about Neve’s losing weight exercise and she’s determined to wow him when he arrives back and sees the new her. She’s sure that that’s all it will take for her to finally get their relationship to the level she craves. There’s a bit of  problem – Neve hasn’t really been in a relationship before and she doesn’t really know how/what to do. She needs to practice so enter her sister Celia’s boss Max, a manwhore type who doesn’t do relationships either, so there’ll be no real feelings involved. Should be simple……

What follows is a hilariously entertaining, heart wrenching and thought provoking story. This book is so much fun but it’s way more than that. Neve is a bit of a mess – she’s cripplingly insecure, probably a product of being relentlessly bullied in school by a woman who is now married to her brother and still wages a hate campaign against her every day until Neve feels like an intruder in her own home. She is very intelligent with a degree from Cambridge but most of her family are uninterested in her life, mistaking her work at an archive for being at a library. Neve seems to believe that all the stars will magically align for her once she reaches that size 10 and as the book advances and William’s return date draws closer and she’s still somewhere around a 14, Neve is willing to go to any lengths to shed those last few pounds. It seems as though Neve might never be happy with her weight because when she looks in the mirror, she struggles to see how far she’s come. She still sees herself as the fat girl, ignoring her progress, seeing herself as bigger than she is. She’s been working hard for years, portion and calorie controlling her meals and working out with a personal trainer. The results are there but sometimes, Neve can’t see them at all. She just keeps thinking of that magic size 10 but even if she were a size 10 she probably wouldn’t believe it. Her image of herself is very distorted.

I could relate to Neve, because we all have our insecurities. I’ve not been as big as her but even scenes where she doesn’t want Max to see or touch a specific part of her, were incredibly familiar to me. I struggle to assert myself as well. Neve has people walk all over her in this book. At work she’s insecure about being kept in the dark about something, immediately assuming the worst. She struggles to retaliate to her sister-in-law Charlotte’s bullying, or her sister Celia’s more dominant personality. Even shopping with her mother brings about difficulties in making herself heard and she hasn’t addressed a family issue from years ago, preferring to bury all these issues deep and soldier on.

Max is an interesting bad boy. He’s shallow at times, self-absorbed and has intimacy issues that could fund a shrink’s retirement but he’s also generous, thoughtful and Neve’s biggest champion throughout most of the book. Max doesn’t care about Neve’s size, other than he wants her to be healthy and enjoy life. He doesn’t urge the dieting or encourage her to drop more sizes, he’s rather appreciative and supportive of Neve as she is. I couldn’t help but love Max. He’s by far not perfect – he’s a bit of a dill in his first scene and there are several fights between him and Neve later in the book where oh, does Max hit below the belt. But I can see why he is doing it whereas Neve really can’t. For so long, Neve is so focused on William that she doesn’t see how this ‘pancake’ relationship (Neve’s term, referring to a batch of pancake batter where the first pancake is always a tester and generally thrown out) has grown and developed in the most natural of ways. Max and Neve may have started out as an experiment so that Neve could have relationship experience when William lobbed back into town but it becomes so much more than that. They both have things to teach the other, especially about their individual insecurities.

I loved this soooo much. It’s totally changed my mind about audiobooks and in the time I’ve finished this, I’ve already read another Sarra Manning book (eBook this time, simply because I wanted to devour it quicker) and I’ve ordered 2 more (paperbacks). I want to read all her books immediately. Thank you to Jenna and Diem for the recommendation!

9/10

Book #197 of 2017

 


2 responses to “Review: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (Audiobook) by Sarra Manning

  1. You are completely welcome for the recommendation! x Diem

  2. I loved your review of this book. I was really able to get into the story but just enough to want to find out more. 😀

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