Publishers Weekly wrote that if Anna Maxted’s Getting Over It had been published before Bridget Jones’ Diary, it would be hailed as the Brit chick lit standard. Good God, I hope not. Getting Over It is the story of Helen Bradshaw, a thirtyish London worker who is having a bad year: her career is going nowhere, her boyfriend is a rakish loser, she sleeps with the wrong men and scares off the right ones, she’s a slob, and worst of all, her father dies unexpectedly. There’s a lot going on in poor Helen’s life, but like her, it’s a mess.
It was Maxted’s debut novel, and it shows. Helen was apparently not close to her father and her self-centered mother falls apart after his death, requiring Helen’s almost constant attention. Yet these situations are alternately given a lot of weight and then resolved in a few sentences or in a way that seems insufficient given that those relationships seemed to be crucial parts of the plot. Helen can’t seem to get it together at all, and it’s a little shocking for someone her age (which is MY age by the way). She’s amazingly immature, and I can’t decide if she has genuine friends or if all her friends are assholes because none of them seem there for her.
I get what Maxted is trying to do: showing Helen’s maturation over the course of a year. But it doesn’t really work. Helen makes too many false starts and seems to kind of end up in a better place in spite of herself. I think Helen is supposed to seem real and relatable due to her flaws, but it was too much for me. She’s a mess and not really likable. And the book just sort of ambles to its end having gone on far too long.