All You Need is Love

And A Big Handbag

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
182 Pages
Reviewed on 07/18/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I love short books, as I travel a lot, I also love a fun read, so I can giggle my way through my flight.. Jack did this in this book for me :)

    Book Review

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.

Marta Tandori

Reminiscent of the 1994 action comedy True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, All You Need is Love (And a Big Handbag) is the zany story of Maggie Spalding, a suburban housewife and mother of rambunctious five-year-old twins, Rhys and Evan, who believes her ten-year-old marriage to her gorgeous college sweetheart, Jack, is in trouble due to her husband’s sudden inattentiveness.

With her Spidey senses on high alert, she hires a private eye to investigate her husband’s every move, but is disappointed to learn that her husband is doing exactly what he says he’s doing – working hard. Unable to ignore her suspicions, especially after finding another woman’s name among her husband’s possessions, Maggie swings into super-sleuth mode after self-medicating with generous amounts of wine and Scotch that leave her feeling particularly neurotic and vulnerable. Her first efforts at following her husband (in her dressing gown, no less) prove unsuccessful when she loses him, but decides to go to her husband’s law firm instead – only to find that there is no law firm, never has been. Suddenly, Maggie’s world is spinning off kilter as she realizes that her entire marriage to Jack has been built on a lie. However, Maggie is determined to get to the bottom of things – quite literally – when she finds herself under a filthy bed in a tawdry motel room that charges by the hour, waiting to trap her conniving husband and ‘the other woman.’ Unfortunately, Maggie gets more than she bargained for when the door opens and the two lovers enter…

Supported by her ditzy best friend, Tina, her boyfriend-romancing mother, and a handbag big enough to hide a body in, Maggie Spalding has guts, determination and a penchant for impulsive – and not always the wisest - actions which land her in a whole lotta trouble. However, when elements outside of her control threaten the well-being of her family, Maggie is a force to be reckoned with, a mother tiger defending her brood at all costs. All You Need is Love (and a Big Handbag) has heart and unbelievable hi-jinks that will have readers chuckling as they quickly turn the pages, eager to see how the whole thing pans out. Although the end is a tad predictable, it doesn’t take away from the sheer enjoyment of reading a book where the main protagonist – a woman, no less - has more chutzpah than Hollywood’s entire roster of big screen action heroes! Atta girl, Mags – you go get ’em!

Kim Anisi

Maggie and Jack are the unlikely spouses All You Need is Love (And a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson is all about. Maggie, a geeky character, somehow managed to capture Jack's heart during high school - and he was the kind of guy all the girls wanted. Ten years into their marriage, however, something is wrong and Maggie suspects that Jack is cheating on her. These suspicions lead her to lying under the dingy bed in a cheap hotel in which you can rent rooms by the hour. And this is where the story starts.

The opening chapter is rather unusual and immediately catches your attention. I found the book to be short and was able to finish it in just one sitting. I mean, how can you stop reading when you want to know what happens next, and you can see that you are already halfway through the book? It is a nice little story, a nice read for in between more challenging novels. Sometimes, you just need a light-hearted story with odd occurrences! I enjoyed the way Maggie was telling her story, and she's definitely a very likeable character. I have no idea how she ended up with someone like Jack, who seems a bit odd with his antiques, but I guess the differences between them are the reasons why the story works.

Viga Boland

When you're craving a quick, easy read to take you away from the stresses of daily life, pick up a copy of All You Need is Love (and a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson. What a hilarious romp of a story! Reading this is like watching Lucille Ball trip over herself with silliness in an old episode of "I Love Lucy." It's sometimes that ridiculous and you laugh till your sides hurt, loving the narrator all the way to the end.

Picture this: Maggie, the narrator, lying under a bed in a sleazy motel, getting her hair caught in the bed springs while a couple goes at "it" above her. What on earth is she doing under there? Well, I'm not going to tell you and spoil your fun, but she's certainly not looking for the condoms she spots on the carpet beside her, that's for sure. All I will share is that Mags is the nerdy girl who snagged and married the college heart-throb, much to everyone's surprise and envy, and now, a couple of children later starts panicking when said husband, now a successful lawyer, consistently comes home late, sometimes not at all, with alcohol on his breath. What on earth is he up to?

Julie Hodgson is a multi-award winning author for a very good reason. She's a super-talented writer. She is so skilled at painting scenes with words, at showing and not just telling us what is going on, that readers see all the actions and people as clearly as if they were watching a movie. Colourful phrases roll off her tongue onto the page. Yet, one senses the tight editing that must have taken place to create a book as funny as this one where every sentence counts. It's like watching an accomplished stand-up comic deliver punch lines at just the right pace.

One reviewer said she read the book in one sitting. That's entirely believable: it is such an enjoyable read. Take it on the plane for your next flight to a vacation spot, and you'll be ready to party the minute you land. Julie Hodgson will have you feeling good before you take that first sip of pina colada. More like that please, Julie!

Sefina Hawke

All You Need is Love (And a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson is a romantic, humorous story that will appeal most to an audience made up primarily of adults, though some mature young adults, who enjoy romance stories with humor and adventure mixed in, may also enjoy the novel. The story follows Maggie, her husband Jake, and their children as Maggie attempts to discover if Jake is being unfaithful to her. Maggie’s quest to find the truth leads her into a dangerous adventure that she never would have expected.

I have to say right off the bat that the cover is not only beautifully done, but also serves as a true depiction of the story. The story has a really awesome beginning with how Maggie sums up her life with Jake, with her own unique brand of commentary in her thoughts, while hiding under a bed in a disgusting hotel room. I really liked the way that Maggie seemed to be actually speaking to me, the reader, and how she questioned herself on what she would do when Jake walked into the room. It really allowed me to get into her head and understand her as a character. I really enjoyed reading All You Need is Love by Julie Hodgson!