Review of West End Girls by Jenny Colgan

West End Girls

Jenny Colgan

January 5, 2021
(first published 2006)

William Morrow Paperbacks

Blurb: They may be twins, but Lizzie and Penny Berry are complete opposites. Penny is the life of the party—loud and outrageous, while quiet and thoughtful Lizzy is often left out of the crowd. The one trait they do share is a longing to do something spectacular with their lives, and as far as these two are concerned, there’s no better place to make their dreams come true than London.

Presented with a once-in-a-lifetime house-sit at their grandmother’s home in a very desirable London neighborhood, it finally seems like Lizzie and Penny are a step closer to the exciting cosmopolitan life they’ve always wanted. But the more time they spend in the big city, they quickly discover it’s nothing like they expected. They may have to dream new dreams…but are they up to the challenge?

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Twin sisters Lizzie and Penny are about as different as sisters can be. Lizzie is introverted and hard-working while Penny is a loud party girl, constantly seeking to be the center of attention. When their grandmother who lives in classy Chelsea enters a nursing home, she asks that the girls stay in her home, providing them with the opportunity of a life-time.

I came late to discovering Jenny Colgan, arriving in time to discover her little cafe, bookshop, and chocolate shop novels that are stylish and sweet. Her earlier novels like My Very 90s Romance (see my review here) and this one, West End Girls, are rougher, not always polite, and funny in a cringe-worthy manner. And I love them!

Colgan does a lot of head jumping in West End Girls, sometimes switching POVs from paragraph to paragraph. There was a time when that would have annoyed me no end, so either Colgan handled this very effectively or else I’m getting more tolerant–maybe both.

The characters of Lizzie and Penny as well as the secondary characters could have very easily slipped into stereotypes, but they never do. They read like real people, making insensitive human mistakes and then trying to figure out how to make them better. Penny is especially well-done. When we first meet her, she’s superficial, raunchy, and self-absorbed. By the end of the novel, she’s become self-aware and caring. Lizzie also transforms, having her world-view broadened as well as her sense of self-worth.

West End Girls does have a fairy tale-like ending, but for funny escapist fare, shouldn’t it?

Now, like My Very 90s Romance, West End Girls may be offensive to some and should be avoided by those who know they are easily offended, because they probably will be.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



4 out of 5 butterflies

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