Paperback, 555 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Corgi Books
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?
Somewhere between losing weight and losing her inhibitions, Neve’s lost her heart – but to who?
I keep saying that I don’t read chicklit and I don’t but when it comes to Manning, somehow I do. It’s just that her writing style is so engaging. I may have said this before, I probably have in another review of her book and if I have, forgive me, but her writing style is akin to sitting down with a bunch of girlfriends and exchanging the most delicious gossip. There’s something natural, something charming about the tone in which the story is narrated that even the most fantastic circumstances become believable.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is about pancake relationships. A pancake relationship, according to Neve Slater is a practice relationship for the real one. Okay, Neve? Girl has many issues, the least of them being her weight. She has worked hard to lose all her weight but it isn’t enough, it won’t be enough until she reaches the magical size ten that will somehow transform her into the goddess that her love in America will see and fall for her. What distinguishes this from the usual fat-girl-slim novel is how realistically Manning narrates this. This is no Cinderella story, guys. Usually, in books that deal with these themes, the author glosses over the process of beautification, she doesn’t discuss what it means to be fat, what it means to be on a diet, the hunger pangs, the very real esteem issues, none of that is considered. In You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me these things are portrayed. The extreme diet, the exercise, the sacrifices, everything is told in a matter of fact tone. And I liked that. I could relate to that! I winced, I cringed, I laughed and I nodded my head.
And then there’s the romance. Manning is genius at creating these very swoonworthy love interests who are just so damned flawed but manage to be awesome anyway. There was that older guy in UnSticky and Christopher in Adorkable. Max is no exception. I love that he is fleshed out as a character and that his exchanged and conversations with Neve are less stilted dialogue and more an accurate reflection of what reality could possibly be. Their relationship is full of holes but they fit together. Even when they can’t see it, they do.
The ending also convinced me that this book deserves it’s five stars. Neve learns her lessons, about her weight, her worth and about illusion and reality. She learns to love not just herself but the man she didn’t expect to. Do I recommend this? You know, I do. I think this is one hell of a ride and who doesn’t like gossiping with their girlfriends?