This tiny little cover doesn't do it justice in the slightest.
Although from a practical point of view I prefer reading paperback books, I have a weakness for hardbacks that dates back to my early days in publishing when I worked in the production department. I love hardbacks; the beauty of a clean hardback case, the wonderful feel when you crack open the spine. I always feel I've got a real book in my hands in a way I don't with a paperback.
And on that front Gods Behaving Badly doesn't disappoint. The jacket looks and feels gorgeous. It's got matt lamination, spot varnishing, embossing - all the tricks of the design trade which done badly can go horribly awry, but which have been used here for a simple and glorious harmony. Not only that the hardback case is a stylish black with (my favourite) gold blocking on the spine. (In my production days when we were bored we'd eschew black for the wildest most garish colours we could think of, but really, nothing beats black and gold I don't think). And best of all it's got endpapers - my favourite bit of a hardback - and they too are utterly gorgeous.
Before you've even opened a page you feel this is going to be a wonderful experience.
And it is.
It's always a bit of a worry when something is hyped as much as GBB has been, that it might be a disappointment. I didn't think it would be. I've read the opening chapters, I've read Marie's blog. Like I said before I went on holidayI am sure this is going to be huge. But still... There's always that smidgeon of worry, and I so wanted to like it.
Happily I can report, that I didn't just like it, I absolutely loved it. Marie's squabbling gods are hilarious. The plot is rollocking. Her hero and heroine are fab - I couldn't help but fall for a hero who secretly reads the sorts of books where a man presses his lips against a woman before ravaging her - and the whole conceit of the book is so clever and funny. I'm happily not given to jealousy about other writers, but if I had a book I'd like to have written, this would definitely be it.
I'm not going to do any spoilers, but I particularly enjoyed the idea that Angel Tube station (a place I used to use regularly when I was younger) is in fact the entrance to the Underworld. Neil, the hero reminded me of both Martin Freeman in The Office and Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead - he is utterly unlikely but turns up trumps. I am in love with him completely. And Alice, the self effacing heroine, also quietly turns out to have hidden depths.
Gods Behaving Badly is a wonderful wonderful book, thoroughly deserving of its hype. I can't wait for her next one...