Leftovers is the second book by Stella Newman I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. The story is a little different, but the morale is the same: while romance is beautiful, it is not a necessary component to building a happy, fulfilling life.
No, Leftovers is not a rant on the superiority of women over men. It is an enjoyable, witty, and well-written exploration of love, friendship, and enjoying what one has in life, rather than focusing on what one does not have. Susie defies the definition she found in a magazine of being a leftover—a post Bridget Jones, thirty-something year old who does not have her dream man, does not hold her dream job, and does not live in her dream home—to build a life she is happy with.
But to do that, Susie realises that she cannot postpone working on her happiness anymore. Her plan always involves the future: when she gets her promotion and bonus at the end of the year, she can finally quit after six years at a job she doesn’t like and pursue her dream career in food, then surely everything else will fall into place. Then again, her pattern of behavior seems to indicate that she will instead find another ‘milestone’ to aim for.
This book was an enjoyable, easy read containing profound significance. The protagonist is lovable, the kind of person one would love to meet in real life; this engaged the reader at an emotional level that heightens the reading experience. Susie’s love for pasta and her ability to come up with a recipe unique to each situation flows seamlessly into the book, becoming, in a way, yet another one of Susie’s companions as she tries to untangle the web she has caught herself in.
Most importantly, Susie realises that happiness comes to those who are actively seeking it out. The first step towards building happiness is the hardest one to take; the ones that come after become increasingly easy. Granted, the happiness that Susie finally allows into her life has a very large return the likes of which doesn’t often happen in real life, but the pattern of behavior she establishes is one that does have an immediate and powerful return.
A must read for anyone looking for a book that offers both escape and inspiration!