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The International Writers Magazine: Review

Holly’s Inbox, by Holly Denham
Published by Headline Review
ISBN – 978 0 7553 4374 4

Chris Burden


I don’t know about you but I love to gossip! Whether it’s about the hottest celebrity at the moment or just the woman down the road. We all do it, whether we like to admit it or not. So how would you feel if you had total access to someone’s email account and could read everything that they sent and received? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate thrill? Well look no further because thanks to Holly’s Inbox you can!

It all started when Holly Denham started a website, www.hollysinbox.com, which allowed the public to read every email that she sent and received. It became a huge success and thousands of people were logging on everyday. Eventually those emails got collected and published, and thank God that they did because otherwise I would have never stumbled across this gem!

Holly’s Inbox tells the story of this year’s Bridget Jones, Holly Denham, a lovable, modern woman with the flaws of a real person. We become entranced as she goes about her everyday life: starting her new job as a receptionist and trying to escape her former life. Eventually, Holly’s love life becomes the main focus of her emails as she starts dating her boss, later gets dumped by him and then has to continue working with him as he dates other women. Every woman knows how crap this feels so Holly becomes instantly lovable. Eventually, Holly’s own dark past is revealed, creating real empathy for the character and bringing the story to a dramatic finale.

But Holly’s Inbox is chick lit with a difference! Forget the traditional form of the novel; this is the novel for the Facebook generation, where we are used to learning and gossiping about our friends through messages rather than actually talking to them. Facebook now allows us to talk to, or about, anyone with anyone, no matter where they are in the world. But is this really the amazing technological breakthrough that it deserves to be? Or does it just emphasise how shallow our society has become? We have become obsessed with watching others, and the media is fuelling this obsession. Whether it’s reading Heat magazine or watching Big Brother, society has never been more voyeuristic.

But why are people so fanatical about looking in today’s world? Why are we so interested in everyone else’s life? Is it because our lives’ are so boring we need to focus on someone else’s? That would certainly explain why soap operas are so popular today – everyday we can tune in and immerse ourselves in someone else’s life and forget about our own. Or perhaps it is the total opposite. Perhaps we focus so intently on other peoples’ lives because we don’t live in the happy, fairytale land that can exist in books. We live in a world full of fear and terror; a world in which love doesn’t always end happily and people can be lonely forever. If those were my options then I would certainly want to escape into a book, into another person’s life.

Holly’s Inbox is one of those fantastic books that you can completely throw yourself into, disappearing from your own world and nesting comfortably in Holly’s. Having such unguarded access to a character like Holly makes you care more for her than you do your own real friends. Full of pure, natural conversations and reactions rather then forced dialogue or considered emotions, the realism of Holly’s Inbox will simultaneously shock and amaze you. It does not tell a character’s story, it tells the story of a real person. But be warned, once you pick this book up you won’t be able to put it back down again until you have discovered all the secrets of Holly’s Inbox.

© Chris Burden November 2007
cburden88@hotmail.com>

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