Monday 11 September 2017

Book review : In The Matter of Isabel - Paul A. Mendelson

In The Matter of Isabel is Paul A. Mendelson's début novel, but he's already a well-known and  BAFTA-nominated TV writer, with shows such as May to December, So Haunt Me and My Hero under his belt. Paul has also written for ITV and for DreamWorks Animation, and is currently developing several feature films both in the UK and in the US. But how would he manage to channel all that experience into writing a novel? Well, the answer is, surprisingly well.

The novel focuses on Rick, a wannabe corporate whiz-kid from Hackney who bigs himself up all the time, so even his parents and girlfriend think that his position at the law firm where he works is much more high-powered than it really is. He embellishes the truth so much that he almost ends up believing his own version of events, and I frequently rolled my eyes at him as I read the half-lies and exaggerations coming out of his mouth. He is a total player, but when he takes on a new legal case at work, he soon realises he has bitten off more than he can chew, both in terms of the case and the client.

The client is an Argentinian divorcee called Isabel Velazco who is feisty with a dancer's grace and shapely body - the rest is pretty immaterial to Rick. Isabel is desperate to get her son back from her ex-husband and Rick is her only chance of success. Unfortunately, he knows little about custody and cares even less. Spinning yarn after yarn (great odds of winning ... he's on to it ... double first at Cambridge ...), he is more interested in spending time with her and getting her into bed than working on the case, but Isabel is not as vulnerable and naive as she first appears and she has him exactly where she wants him.

Rick is a total jerk and I frequently wanted to slap him, but he also made me smile and roll my eyes good naturedly, especially as the story progressed and he ended up getting played himself, as well as growing up quite a lot. All of the characters are very detailed, multi-faceted and believable and I had a very clear mental picture of them, both physically and in terms of personality - I suspect this is something that comes from the author's background in TV writing. The final scenes are plausible and satisfying, although I still haven't worked out who got their happy ending, if anyone ! It's an enjoyable book which manages to weave some poignant moments and a love story into into the endless witty one-liners and laugh-out-loud moments.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Book Guild Publishing Ltd (28 Jun. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911320874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911320876

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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