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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
In Julie Hodgson’s All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag, bookish and awkward Maggie enters college, not expecting to be noticed by anyone, let alone by Jack, the most handsome and adventurous man on campus. Lugging a big handbag everywhere, Maggie is dubbed Mary Poppins by her friend, Tina, but she hangs onto her bag for dear life. Maggie and Jack eventually get married and settle into a happy and normal life with their twin sons, but there is no such thing as a fairy tale. So when Jack starts behaving strangely, Maggie becomes suspicious enough to hire a detective to get to the bottom of their marriage. What follows is a hilarious turn of events that lands her under the bed of a sleazy room in a cheap motel with a big handbag by her side.
In All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag, Julie Hodgson establishes the story’s mood in a very subtle way - she does not over exaggerate the tension, instead she draws it out slowly and steadily and sets this humorous book apart from all the others. And although handsome guy falls in love with clumsy girl is not a very original plot, the dynamics here between the main protagonists, Maggie and Jack, somehow come across as refreshing and not contrived. Told from the point of view of Maggie, who is bothered by the thought of a philandering husband, and surrounded by characters like her colorful best friend Tina and her sexually active mother, no one could have expected the way in which All You Need is Love comes to its end.