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on August 3, 2006
When I saw this on Amazon I thought, "Hey there's a Jane Green novel I haven't read before, or even heard of." Turns out, I had read it. Called "Spellbound" in this UK edition, the American version was retitled "To Have and to Hold" but it is still the same story. So while this cover art is much better than the US version (in this graphic designers opinion) if you've already read the US version, you've already read this too!
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on June 7, 2004
I bought this book while on vacation in London back in March (it's titled "Spellbound" in the UK- wierd!) Just finished reading it. I agree that it was pretty intereting 2/3 of the way through, but I definitely began to lose interest towards the end. I was rooting for Alice, but she became so DUMB about what was going on with her husband that it began to annoy me. As a married woman myself, it was hard to read some (ok many) scenes where her husband was cheating on her. Disturbing.
I would suggest reading some of Green's other novels first, they are much better. Hope this helps.
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HALL OF FAMEon June 17, 2004
I am a huge Jane Green fan since her Jemima J days. I've bought and devoured all of her books ever since. However, I've noticed a decline in her writing since Bookends. Though Green now writes novels centered on women that have bigger priorities than going to trendy clubs and searching for Mr. Right, her new material lacks the edge and sharpness of her earlier work. To Have and to Hold was a chore to read. As much as I love Jane Green, I just couldn't get into this novel. The main reason is that I couldn't empathize with the somewhat pathetic heroine. Alice sacrifices her dream of living in the country and having kids in the name of her love for Joe -- the man she has loved since she was a teenager. Not only does she have to give up on various lifelong dreams, she also changers her appearance to please her selfish husband. But blond highlights and trendy clothes don't keep Joe from having more than just a wandering eye. He has a thing for leggy blondes, something that gets him into trouble at work and is forced to transfer to Connecticut. Alice is excited about finally living in suburbia, but with Joe's constant infidelity and overall awful behavior Alice may well venture into a little indiscretion of her own...
I know that a lot of women turn a blind eye on blatant bad behavior when they're in love, but Alice's conforming ways irritated me at times. The thing about the Connecticut home's so-called curse made Alice's denial all the more acute. I am aware of Green's message in the story, but it was still difficult to swallow. But the bigger picture is that this novel didn't enthrall me the way Green's earlier work did. I missed Jemima as I read about Alice. Perhaps Jane Green's earlier novels were lighter and more simplistic, but they had a naivete quality to them that is missing in her most recent novels. And, as mentioned earlier, this new novel lacks Green's sharp narrative and crisp dialogue. All in all, frustrating heroine aside, To Have and to Hold failed to spark my interest. I couldn't wait to finish it up. In a nutshell, this is a disappointing read from one of my favorite authors...
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VINE VOICEon October 20, 2006
Mousy wallflower Alice fell for Joe Chambers and it was love at first sight. She never thought he would reciprocate, but years later, they meet at a party and he sees all the possibilities of molding Alice into a perfect corporate wife. They marry, and she sets out to be the serene beauty he desires in an effort to keep him. What she isn't willing to realize is that Joe is a cad and he has a series of affairs, culminating in his getting sent to the New York office after a scandalous coupling with sexy co-worker Josie. Joe considers it a chance to start over. He and Alice buy an apartment and a house in the country. He prefers the bright lights of Manhattan, while Alice flourishes as she toils with her passion for gardening and suddenly grows a backbone, and is no longer the glamorous trophy wife he created, nor is she willing to revert back to their old roles.

As Joe continues his sextra-curricular activities and Alice gets interests of her own, they drift apart, and the truth about Joe's dalliances causes an unsustainable rift in the marriage. They say that what comes around goes around, and Josie suddenly finds herself in the Jimmy Choos that Alice vacated.

Green's sixth novel (published in the US as "To Have and to Hold"), serves as an anatomy of the breakdown of a marriage that was in trouble long before it began. It's also a tale of a woman's transformation from doormat to coming into her own skin, building her own self esteem from the ground up. Though I found the story interesting, I didn't like the passive narrative style in which it was written - a style that told more than showed the reader what was happening.
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on June 5, 2004
I have said it before and I will say it again.... I absolutely LOVE Jane Green! With this said I have to admit that `TO HAVE AND TO HOLD' is my least favorite of her books. While the book started out strong as we delved into the lives of Alice, a plain Jane with aspirations to live a simple life in the country turned sophisticated city girl, and Joe, Alice's husband who loves the fast paced social scene of living amongst the rich and powerful in London. But as we soon find out Joe has a penchant for leggy blonds, which unbeknownst to Alice, he quite frequently acts on.
The relationships between Alice and Joe, Alice and her quirky best friend Emily, and Joe and his mistresses held my attention for about half way through the book. But by the second half `TO HAVE AND TO HOLD' really started to drag. There were long drawn out descriptions of Alice's dream home and too much talk of gardening. I also began to find myself frustrated with Alice for not seeing what was going on right underneath her nose.
If this is the first Jane Green book that you have read or are thinking about reading, please try `JEMIMA J.', `MR. MAYBE' or `BOOKENDS' any of which I guarantee you will love!
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VINE VOICEon June 28, 2004
I either like her books, or think that they are just OK. In this case, it was OK.
Alice has known Joe most of her life. He was her brother's friend, and completely out of her league.
Years passed, and they met again, when she had a thriving catering business. One thing led to another, and they got married. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? Only problem: Joe has a bad habit. He cheats. A lot. Alice knows nothing about it. Will she ever find out? Or will she be doomed to unhappiness in her marriage while Joe plays all he wants?
The reason that I gave it the rating I did, was because much of the book talked mostly about the above synopsis, with a few extra characters, and some light flirting on Alice's side. The conversations had a tendency to be cheesy at times, especially while flirting. They just didn't seem realistic. The reason that I didn't give it a lower rating, was because it was a quick read, and somewhat entertaining, just not her best.
Note: Some people were upset by this, but I thought it was known. In the UK, Spellbound is the exact same book as US To Have and To Hold. I don't know why the change of title, but thought I would let you know.
Still looking forward to Green's next effort!
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on June 16, 2004
I loved Mr. Maybe and Jemima J by Jane Green, so I thought I'll read her newest novel, which is titled Spellbound in UK. It's the story of Alice, and her husband, who's constantly cheating on her. Too many descriptions and the story is going too slow. And then, suddenly, Alice changes totally. This book really got me frustrated, annoyed, depressed, anything but to have a good time ! I forced myself to finish it, but I couldn't, because it was really too hard to continue until the end.
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on June 28, 2006
I've enjoyed Jane Green's other books, but this one reads as though it was written by a different author. There is way too much character development--to the point of being redundant... There are five real characters and each one is painfully explored and then recapped repeatedly; thus making the the middle of the book difficult to get through.

In sum I would say that the premise of the book is far too simple. I don't think an entire book can support it. I guess that's why there is so much chatter about each character... there isn't much else to say.

In the end I was relieved to finally finish it! I've just started The Other Woman, and although I am reserving judgement, so far it is 100x better than To Have and To Hold. I wish I had read the reviews before hand... would have saved me 10.00!
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on June 10, 2004
Spellbound (the original British title) is a much more fitting title for this book. It's not the typical "brit chick lit" fluff despite first appearances...and I should know having basically read the entire genre during a stint in London a few years back.
This is mainly a story about Alice, a fairly typical and recognizable woman for those "lucky" enough to live that lifestyle. On the surface, she has everything: the looks, clothes, house, invitations. But Alice has lost touch with herself and the qualities that truly make her unique, exciting, and enviable. Alice allows herself to become trapped in a life where her focus is a cheating, lying husband and maintaining her image.
Of course she knows what is going on right underneath her nose...but that is not the point. The point to this story is her transformation - how she gathers the courage necessary to face the truth and re-invent a life that she has invested heavily in (both emotionally and financially) for years and years. And while the ending is not oh-so-neatly-tied like in many other books of this style, it is definitely the right ending...Where is the sequel already?
This book helped me change my own life...repeating "I will not be Josie, I will be Alice" helped me face up to my own problems, end my own destructive relationship, and learn to be true to myself. And no, I am not a gardener. This book is a METAPHOR. Yes, the story is exaggerated at times, but the author was trying to make a point. Not everything is as it seems - in life and in this book. Which, incidentally, does not make it any less fine as a beach read.
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on June 19, 2004
I was extremely excited when I found out that Jane Green had a new book coming out. I waited months for it to be released.... then was extremely disappointed to find out that it is not a new book at all!! This is merely a reprint of the UK release Starstruck! The only difference is that it's been retitled! Shame on Jane Green for trying to fool her fans.
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