I am unable to stop humming the Tom Jones song of the title in my head, even after putting the book down. Alexandra Potter’s novel What’s New, Pussycat? is a fun and spirited adventure, following Delilah (another Tom Jones song) as she flees her dull-as-dishwater life in Yorkshire to pursue her dreams in London. What are her dreams? Well mostly they involve not marrying Lenny (her dull-as-dishwater boyfriend, who has just proposed to her) and not having to be a dull-as-dishwater waitress just to pay the rent. And just coincidentally, she has in her pocket a business card from dashing, charming, gorgeous television producer Charlie who asked her to “look him up” if she happened to be in London.
So, London it is. Delilah packs up her beloved collection of Tom Jones records and her dog into her trusty VW Beetle and hurtles into her future. But is Delilah ready for the pace of the big city? Not really, it turns out, because the first thing she does is faint in a cafe in Notting Hill. Given that she knows nothing of London geography it’s pure serendipity that she is in the same suburb as the dreamy Charlie. But luck and coincidence can only take her so far, as she finds herself sharing a flat with Vivienne (friend of Sam the cafe owner) but then loses her bag, and her link to Charlie, and her will to proceed, all at once.
From here the story turns out to be a delightful adventure for a single girl who is determined to make it work in the big city, and whether it’s not impossible for fate to step in and put Charlie back in Delilah’s way. Delilah is of the firm conviction (implanted by her mother) that she can achieve anything she wants. It’s knowing what she wants that poses the difficulty. And if she gets Charlie, and Charlie’s lifestyle of parties and glamour, is it really what she wanted in the first place?
It takes some creativity and nerve to update a novel, but this reprint of Alexandra Potter’s first novel leaves me looking for more from her.
Available now: Hachette RRP$19.95