Review: A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker

 

Title: The Question of Us

Author: Mary Jayne Baker

Published: September 5th 2019, Aria Fiction

Status: Read September 2019 courtesy Aria Fiction/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

A Question of Us is a charming and funny contemporary romance from British author, Mary Jayne Baker.

The friends to lovers trope in romance has always been my favourite, and it’s the focus of A Question of Us. Clarrie and Simon have been best friends for over twenty years (since they were four) and both have harboured unacknowledged romantic feelings for each other since their late teens. Now in their mid twenties, Simon is ready for Clarrie to to take him seriously, but Clarrie, desperately worried that giving in to her attraction to Simon will eventually spell the end of their friendship, prefers to deflect and deny. Clarrie’s concerns are understandable, and relatable for anyone who has been in a similar position. Her fears are also magnified by what seems to be mild social anxiety.

In the attempt to convince Clarrie to give him a shot, Simon offers her a bet – if their team wins the trivia league she agrees to a date, and if the The Mighty Morphin’ Flower Arrangers lose, he will never ask her out again. The weekly trivia competition is a great framework for the story, allowing the author to bring her characters together naturally (and it’s fun to answer the questions).

Probably my favourite element of the novel is the dynamic between the group, which includes Clarrie, Simon, Sonny, Gemma and and Davy, who have all been close friends since high school. A lot of the banter involves the pushing of each other’s buttons in only the way people who have known each other forever can, and while much of it is hilarious, if juvenile (and un-PC), the affection between them reads as totally genuine. Each of the characters also have their own story, and unusually, so do their parents.

I also really enjoyed the ‘Britishness’ of A Question of Us, Baker freely makes use of British ‘slang’ and the story largely takes place in a variety of quintessential English pubs, resulting in the downing of several pints of Guinness, lager, and cheap wine. I’ve noticed some (American) reviewers complaining it’s ‘too British’ but as an Australian, with plenty of exposure to British culture and TV, it felt familiar, and honestly refreshing.

Witty, fun and engaging, I was delighted with A Question of Us.

++++++

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