You had me at ‘hullo’ by Anna Bell

Anna BellAnna Bell, author of the Don’t Tell series, talks about how she discovered the chick-lit genre…

I think we all remember our first time, well I certainly do – the first time I read my first chick lit novel.

I was in my late teens, at sixth form college, and in a reading limbo. I’d stopped reading my YA books that came in series Sweet Valley University, The Making Out Books and Point Horrors, and I’d looked to adult fiction. I was mainly reading John Grisham novels and those books I found in HMV that I thought would make me seem cool and quirky – Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, J.D Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, but something was missing. My stepdad introduced me to chick lit, when he gave me a book for Christmas.
He bought me Straight Talking by Jane Green. In short it was amazing. It was sexy, it was sassy and it was a grown-up girlie book. It was pure escapism and I was instantly hooked.

I soon devoured all the Jane Green books I could get my hands on. I had a major fangirl crush on Jemima J. I wanted to move to Kilburn, drink Kir Royales and find my own Ben.
Then, when reading Bookends, I wanted to own a bookshop with a little coffee shop nestled inside. I got my friends hooked on her books too and we were soon discussing Mr Maybe and Babyville and wishing she’d hurry up and write more books.

I read all that Jane published and it wasn’t long until my step dad, and another Christmas present, introduced me to Freya North. The first book of hers I read was Polly, the story of a transatlantic life swap. She became an instant go-to author and over the years I’ve read all of her books. I love the way her her characters have their trademark ‘hullo’s’ and that you instantly love the protagonists as they’re always vulnerable and loveable. Her McCabe sisters are some of my all time favourite chick lit characters.

I soon discovered Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd. I still remember my friends and I pouring over scenes of Come Together in our lunch break at Sixth Form giggling at the scenes of the main characters getting down and dirty written from both the women’s and the man’s perspective.

I’m so glad that my step-dad bought me those books and I got sucked in to the wonderful genre of chick lit. Over the years that followed at university and working my arse off establishing a career, all I wanted to read was escapist, heart-warming books, and chick lit was perfect. It got well and truly under my skin and never really left. I still read a chapter a two a day of a chick lit novel a day, it’s about all my brain wants to cope with after spending a day chasing a toddler round the house.

If you’ve never read some of those formative novels that defined the chick lit genre in the mid-late nineties, then do seek out Jemima J (Jane Green), Cat (Freya North) and Come Together (Emlyn Rees and Josie Llloyd). They are the books that made me fall in love with Chick Lit and I promise they won’t disappoint. I wonder what books made you fall in love with Chick Lit?

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One Response to You had me at ‘hullo’ by Anna Bell

  1. Renee says:

    Hi Anna! I’ve read the first book in your Don’t tell series – it was available at my library via Borrowbox. Chick lit is one of my favourite genre – fun escapism! I’m not sure which books first put me onto it, but there are so many authors I like now! Aussie authors like Tess Woods, Susan Murphy, Carla Caruso and Dianne Maguire are some I have read recently.

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