Title: The Temp
Author: Emily Benet
Release Date: October 23
Source: HarperImpulse on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check out this book on Goodreads.
Amber is a twenty-something, out of university with a degree she’s not sure what to do with… so she temps in order to earn enough money to live in London.
One of her favourite life-hacks is to attend modern art gallery openings for free wine. It is during one of these that she thinks ‘if they can do it, why not me?’, and meeting a handsome gallery promoter cements her ambition to become famous through her art.
With the help—and sometimes hindrance—of her friends Farrell, Bibiana, and Egg (short for Egbert), can Amber achieve her dream AND snag handsome Elliott? (Source: Goodreads)
Amber has no special skills, not any particular interests, which has left her working as a temp, currently at a catering company. She spends her free time going to art shows she doesn’t understand, and greatly dislikes, to get free wine. She meets an art financier at her temp job and convinces him she’s an artist which leads to her becoming an actual artist, just to prove herself I guess? Her art project? Bananas. Along with her friends she plants brightly painted bananas around London, for no actual reason and somehow garners a bit of fame. And while discovering her “true passion” she also finds love unexpectedly.
Amber wasn’t a particularly great narrator. She’s a little dull, and a little dimwitted. She is very literal in her understanding of things people say which is somewhat infuriating, especially because for some reason she decides she wants to be an artist. Beyond this she isn’t particularly interesting. There’s nothing about that stands out aside from her, self-admitted, lack of culture, and her need to understand things very literally. She’s probably the most boring character in the book. She also lacked agency for most of the book, really riding on the efforts and force of most of the other characters despite insisting that the art was her thing.
I found the romance with Elliot hard to buy into. I didn’t for a moment find him charming, though she seemed to think he was amazing, and that led to a really lacking romance. It reminded me a bit of Pear Shaped as Elliot was another rich, bossy guy who kind of swept her away with his money but lacked any other interest. To me, Elliot was right away an obvious bad choice for a guy to be with. I mean even the weird artist Montague seemed like a better love interest. This led to the love “triangle” bit getting a little dull because Elliot was clearly the worst choice ever.
I would have to say that the friends are the more interesting characters in the book. Bibiana, Amber’s Argentinian friend, was my least favourite because she was a little like Elliot. She sort of came in out of nowhere bossed everyone around and screwed everything up. Egg was my favourite character in the book because he was a little strange and had a little more…depth. He had this amazing subplot hidden underneath all of the confusing art nonsense that made me laugh out loud at the reveal. Finally, Farrell, Amber’s best friend, is one of the sweetest characters in the book. I thought he was adorable right off the bat and was pleased with the development of his character later on, though the kind of high school drama style approach to the relationship building was super unnecessary in my opinion. Despite that I found Egg and Farrell charming and fun to read about.
In terms of plot I think its a little weak. It was a fun plot. Her guerilla banana art was cute. Overall I just thought it was all lacking any reasoning. There was no motivation to do any of the stuff that Amber did and yet she was constantly active. I felt at times like even Benet got kind if swept away by the likes of Bibiana and Elliot and didn’t have a lot if control over what was going on. I just didn’t feel like a lot of what happened had reasons to occur or was even necessary to the overall plot development or character development.
Finally, I thought the writing itself was good. The use of language was good for me. I think there was some very emotional scenes that were written well. Benet has a skill at writing scenes that are tense or filled with anxiety. There are some really standout scenes in the book, like the scene at the bookshop.
This is another book where I liked the book but I felt there was some work that needed to be done. The beginning of the book especially is a little slow and uninteresting, whereas later scenes are tense or funny and keep you engaged and it seems so incongruous. I think it is quite a fun read though, especially for fans of British chick lit.