Will you marry me?’ I think of you, then. I think of you every day. But usually in the quietest part of the morning, or the darkest part of the night. Not when my boyfriend of two years has just proposed. I look up at Richard with his hopeful eyes. ‘Lily?’ he prompts. It’s been ten years, but it feels like only yesterday that you left. How can I say yes to Richard with all my heart when most of it has always belonged to you? I take a deep breath and will myself to speak…Ten years ago when Lily was just sixteen, she fell in love with someone she really shouldn’t have fallen in love with. Now, living in Sydney and engaged to another man, she can’t forget the one that got away. Then her past comes back to haunt her, and she has to make a decision that will break her heart – and the heart of at least one of the men who love her.

Paige Toon seems to have taken the chick lit world by storm in the last couple of years, and no wonder, her books are immensely readable and once you start there really is no putting them down!

‘Pictures of Lily’ is Paige’s fourth book and has been very eagerly awaited by her fans, not least because she has been promising updates on our favourite characters from her other books.

The eponymous Lily is a twenty-six year old temp who lives and works in Sydney, Australia. The book begins with Lily being proposed to by her boyfriend Richard. Lily loves Richard and is happy living with him. She should be thrilled to be marrying him but she has never got over losing her first love at the age of sixteen. Can she marry Richard when she knows that part of her heart will never be his?

‘Pictures of Lily’ is set in Adelaide and Sydney. I enjoyed the way that Paige used landmarks and the beautiful Australian scenery as a backdrop to the story. Her descriptions of the conservation park which Lily works in and of the animals there are very memorable.

One of the aspects of ‘Pictures of Lily’ which I really liked was the way that Paige takes us back ten years for almost half the book to when Lily is sixteen and falls in love with someone that she realty shouldn’t have fallen in love with. Paige does a wonderful job of writing as a 16 year old, conveying all the teenage angst, whilst still ensuring that the reader knows that the love she feels isn’t just a teenage crush. It’s the real thing and will never leave Lily. Paige also manages to deal with the large age difference between Lily and her love very well. The relationship between them never seems wrong. The reader knows that despite the age difference, the two characters really are made for each other.
Something that I admire about Paige as a writer is the way that she sees all the sides to her characters. There is no simple answer to what Lily should do; she does love Richard and he is a good person, while Lily herself is not perfect in the way that she deals with the situation.

In writing this book Paige certainly fulfilled her promise of bringing back previous characters. Lily’s boyfriend Richard cameoed in Paige’s first book, ‘Lucy In The Sky’, as Nathan’s flatmate in London. He’s still friends with the old gang, so fans of ‘Lucy In The Sky’ get an update on what Molly, Sam, Lucy and Nathan have been up to! There are also brief mentions of Johnny Jefferson (‘Johnny Be Good’) and Luis and Daisy (‘Chasing Daisy’).

I recommend Paige Toon far and wide, and this book is certainly no exception. Readers will be able to relate to the characters but the situations and Australian backdrop give added interest that really keep the reader hooked. I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon than curled up reading this!

5 stars

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