A review of ‘Where There’s A Will’, a debut novel written by Beth Corby.
“Don’t be afraid to be magnificent – it’s the best advice I can give you.”
If only Hannah had heard these words before her interview! We’ve all been there – providing answers to a prospective employer that nosedive into self-perpetuating awkwardness! Relive your own painful experience as Where There’s A Will opens with a clever sketch of 25-year-old Hannah drawn through this ordeal and its post-interview analysis.
With her perpetual student status drawing to a close and a career decision imminent, Hannah is mortified when her interviewer declares her lacking in the “zeal and determination” required to follow the path of an English teacher. Deciding to withhold the rejection from the family who despair with her, it is no surprise that Hannah’s gut wrenches when a collective party invitation arrives from a Great-Uncle Donald she has never met.
Donald and his nearest and not-so-dearest take centre stage in a Bridget Jones style scene on his estate, The Laurels. A fun and imaginative way for the reader to become acquainted with displaced, unappreciated Hannah, suffering at the hand of her undermining grandmother and her successful elder sister, recruitment agent Lauren, who refrains from smiling to avoid wrinkles. Intrigue is added concerning the reason for wealthy Donald’s estrangement from the entire family and what role his sister, Bossy Betty, (Hannah’s grandmother) had to play in this. But the heart of this story beats with Hannah, floundering in Lauren’s shadow, unexpectedly making quite the impression on Donald, especially when she confides her dream to become a writer.
“For Hannah – The Beginning.”
Fast forward more than three months and Hannah is honoured in Donald’s will. The proviso? She must undertake five mysterious tasks distributed in turn through a legacy of letters handwritten by Donald. Only then will an undisclosed sum be hers. Donald has enlisted his surly but somewhat easy-on-Hannah’s-eye assistant, Alec, to aid Hannah in her quest. But as she accepts the challenge what secrets buried in her lineage might come to the fore? Will the family rift ever be healed? Will the cat-and-mouse game she plays with Alec help or hinder her task? And can she find the will to finally pursue her life’s ambition as a writer?
“Be delicious, be delightful, be disastrous, but never be dull.”
Despite the many references to money it doesn’t take long for the penny to drop that the tasks are insignificant in this highly inventive debut. Driven by its characters, and in particular Donald, who prevails delightfully after his death, masterfully guiding mischievous pranks, brutal character assassination and wise prose, this is an uplifting tale of life, love and self-discovery. A joyful and sometimes poignant journey alongside a young woman meandering life’s murky waters. Walk with Hannah and learn to observe the rain, evoke a sense of purpose and take life stock of what really matters.
Fans of Jenny Colgan, Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella will enjoy this lighthearted yomp with a reflective dose of quintessential English tradition. A charming novel which secures Beth Corby’s place on the romantic-comedy/uplit chart for some time to come.