'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.
I know a lot of people absolutely adore Paige Toon, but I can't say I was particularly impressed by her debut, Lucy in the Sky. Sure, I thought it was an enjoyable read, but not quite as amazing as I'd expected it to be. I've bought her next two books anyway (because of the covers, but we'll get to that later) and decided to give Ms Toon another chance when I got a copy of Pictures of Lily (published 8 July 2010), which is too gorgeous to be overlooked anyway.
The story opens in the late 1990s, where our heroine Lily is forced to move to Australia from the UK to follow her mother's latest love interest. At first, Lily couldn't be more miserable about this move, but things get better after she starts working at the conservation park and becomes friends with Josh & his gang and Ben, who encourages her love for photography. She falls head over heels in love, but her object of affection is a) older than her, b) engaged and c) moving to a different country. Lily is devastated and she never got over this, not even ten years later when her boyfriend proposes. Then she has a proper blast from the past could seriously rock her word.
Yeah, the book can be summed up quite quickly and yet it's nearly 400 pages long. I have to say I really enjoyed the first part of the book that took place 10 years ago. I loved the young, sassy Lily as a teenager and the chemistry between her and the love interest was off the hook, like I could see sparks flying off the page, and even I was sad when things ended the way they did ...
Then there's the Now part, which I found rather boring - or at least the first 100 pages, which seemed completely pointless and far too detailed anyway. Yes, they included bits about Lily's life now etc., but I just didn't like the fact that some scenes were super detailed and yet completely unrelated to the big plot.
Theeeen the two lovebirds meet again after 10 years and the story finally took off again! The ending was predictable and a bit cheesy, but I quite liked it regardless, hehehe.
So obviously, the plot had its ups and downs, but overall it was a great read! The emotion was there and I could really feel Lily's pain and passion and everything. Oh and I also loved that the book was set in Australia. I don't really have any complaints regarding the characters, I thought they were all well done, but there were certain bits about the writing that I wasn't too keen on, like the short sentences or the too detailed descriptions of e.g. random actions. But that's all just personal preference, whereas on the whole I really quite enjoyed this book and there were moments when I was completely sucked into it.
What is truly mindblowing about this novel is definitely the cover! You can see a picture of it above, but trust me, it's even more stunning in real life (it sparkles, yay)! I hereby declare this The Cover of the Year and I can also say that all four Paige Toon's books have The Prettiest Covers Ever. I found it quite hard to actually read the book because I just couldn't stop staring at this incredible book jacket, which was designed by Rafaela Romaya, illustrated by Liane Payne and the lettering was done by Ruth Rowland. Well done, ladies - these covers are absolutely spectacular! The book was great, but the amazing cover is just the cheery on top - what's not to love?
plot: 4/5 | writing: 3/5 | characters: 4/5 | cover: 10/5