Blog Tour and Book Review: Agony Auntics by Julie Butterfield
As an agony aunt, Fliss Carmichael should have all the answers but when her own marriage begins unravelling at the seams, she hasn’t a clue where to start. After a simple mistake causes an unintended role swap, she becomes the one seeking advice from an unlikely source!
Agony Auntics has a really interesting premise and tells two parallel stories: Fliss is the agony aunt who seems to have the perfect life and the perfect marriage even to herself, until a letter from Ellie makes her sit back, take stock and realise things aren’t quite right. Ellie is shy and lacks confidence; the advice she gets from Fliss helps bolster her up to take a chance on trying to create a relationship with her crush Logan, but when Fliss accidentally sends a response to Ellie which includes musings on the failings of her own relationship, the two start up a correspondence trying to help each other solve their problems.
I really liked Fliss’s story arc. Married almost two decades, she’s wondering where the magic has gone in her marriage and is trying to rediscover it, thwarted by a husband who’s denying that there’s anything wrong even while he goes out of his way to avoid actually being alone with her. I thought it was going to be a failed marriage, but the story took a few surprising turns. There are some major revelations (trigger warnings for past miscarriage) and Fliss’s arc ends with her and her husband deciding to move forward into a new phase of their relationship. However… I struggled to buy it as an actual happy ending because they didn’t discuss alternative options or what-if scenarios, and because Fliss’s husband really wasn’t as on board with the plan as she was, he was just going along to make her happy.
Ellie has a different arc and in all honesty, she came off as a clueless ditz. She declares herself ‘in love with’ Logan, a guy who works at the same company, despite never having actually spoken to him. “It’s not a crush!” she declares, and I rolled my eyes, because it’s pretty much the definition of a crush. Fliss offers up some very sensible advice about getting to actually know Logan, ensure he knows Ellie is actually alive and potentially interested in a romantic relationship, and… really that’s about as interesting as this arc gets. Ellie has an interfering friend and there’s a potential rival and an ex-boyfriend who complicate things slightly, but there are no real stakes at play, so every time we went back to Ellie’s point of view, I just wanted to get back to Fliss and find out what was happening in the interesting part of the story.
As I said, this has a really interesting premise. I like the idea of the agony aunt who needs relationship advice herself and accidentally stumbles into an exchange of it with a correspondent; the letters the two exchanged to set up the next chapters were a nice touch. However, I thought Ellie’s arc was boring and I didn’t really buy into Fliss’s happy ending, so this didn’t quite hit the spot for me. The writing is good but I think the story execution missed the mark. I’ll give it three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.
Author Bio – Julie Butterfield belongs to the rather large group of 'always wanted to write' authors who finally found the time to sit down and put pen to paper - or rather fingers to keyboard. She wrote her first book purely for pleasure and was very surprised to discover that so many people enjoyed the story and wanted more, so she decided to carry on writing. It has to be pointed out that her first novel, 'Did I Mention I Won The Lottery' is a complete work of fiction and she did not, in fact, receive millions in her bank account and forget to mention it to her husband - even though he still asks her every day if she has anything to tell him.
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