At the start of Holly’s Inbox, by Holly Denham (the pen name of Bill Surie), Holly Denham starts her first day as a receptionist at a busy corporate bank. From here the reader is taken into her email inbox as she emails several different people throughout the course of her work day. The reader gets to tag along to read her emails to and from friends, co-workers, and service providers.
Not only do you get to peek at someone else’s emails, there’s also a romantic storyline to follow, along with a few funny subplots.
Don’t let the size of this book put you off. It weighs in at 665 pages, but since each email is formatted as an email, with appropriate From and To lines, the actual story isn’t as long as it seems. The style of the writing is in keeping with the breezy, chatty style of personal emails, so the book is an easy and fun read.
I read the book in one sitting, and one thing I noticed was that, by making the reader aware, gradually, that there are certain things we don’t know about Holly, there’s actually a nice bit of suspense – it was this suspense that sent me galloping over the last third of the book, because I wanted to find out answers to certain questions.
Not that I didn’t have some quibbles about Holly’s Inbox, though. I don’t want to include any spoilers, so this might not make complete sense to you until/unless you’ve read the book. I really didn’t get James’ character. (James is Holly’s new boyfriend). It just didn’t feel that credible to me that James pre-Spain/up-to-Spain and James post-Spain were the same person. Given what James post-Spain is like, seriously, why would he do what he did while in Spain? Guys like James post-Spain don’t do things like that – there’s no point. What happened in Spain just didn’t make sense to me.
And why was James post-Spain the way he was? We don’t really get a reason for the change from James pre-Spain and James post-Spain, and it’s a bit frustrating not to know his motivations.
Jennie also seemed a bit unbelievable, although incredibly fun to read, especially at the end when she got her comeuppance. And the reason behind Holly’s animosity toward Toby is a plot mechanism that’s pretty old.
But still, despite these quibbles, I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and quick read, and I laughed out loud several times. I thought Bill Surie developed his characters quite well within the limitations of the email format.
Holly’s Inbox has been compared to Bridget Jones’ Diary, and there are certainly some similarities. For me, it wasn’t as good a read as Bridget Jones’ Diary, but regardless, it was a good read overall.
Where to buy Holly’s Inbox:
Review copy details: published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009 (originally published in 2007), trade paperback, 665 pages, review copy provided by publisher