All You Need is Love

And A Big Handbag

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
182 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I love short books, as I travel a lot, I also love a fun read, so I can giggle my way through my flight.. Jack did this in this book for me :)

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Julie Hodgson’s All You Need is Love (And a Big Handbag) is hilariously adventuresome. What would you do for love? Would you be willing to hide under a bed in a run-down hotel and stake out your husband? That’s exactly what Maggie Spalding does. Do you believe in fairy tales, happy endings? Maggie did, but now she fears she must grow up and face reality. Maggie’s husband is acting weird, a little too strange. Their beautiful beginning now seems a distant memory. Alone and empty, she allows her imagination to take flight and thinks the worst. With her ever faithful, over stuffed Mary Poppins’ style handbag in her grasp, Maggie sets out to find some answers. She could have never imagined what she discovers...

All You Need is Love is outrageous! Julie Hodgson writes a comedy action adventure that is beyond entertaining. The narrative is cute, full of hilarious moments and outlandish escapades all surging at an adrenaline-fueled pace. Written in first person, the story takes you inside the mind of the heroine and places you smack dab in the action. Hodgson’s writing style is delightfully descriptive. The characters are fun, intelligent and likeable, except for the villain who is downright vicious. Hodgson creates a bizarre, polar opposite sidekick for the heroine. Their relationship is a comical, yet heartfelt bond that stretches the main character to do things outside her comfort zone. But, if truth be told, the real partner and lifelong companion of the heroine is her handbag. The plot transpires over a few hours; however, through flashback technique, years of memories are thrown into the mix. The action is fast and furious, humorous and dangerous. Definitely my kind of book!

Marta Tandori

Reminiscent of the 1994 action comedy True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, All You Need is Love (And a Big Handbag) is the zany story of Maggie Spalding, a suburban housewife and mother of rambunctious five-year-old twins, Rhys and Evan, who believes her ten-year-old marriage to her gorgeous college sweetheart, Jack, is in trouble due to her husband’s sudden inattentiveness.

With her Spidey senses on high alert, she hires a private eye to investigate her husband’s every move, but is disappointed to learn that her husband is doing exactly what he says he’s doing – working hard. Unable to ignore her suspicions, especially after finding another woman’s name among her husband’s possessions, Maggie swings into super-sleuth mode after self-medicating with generous amounts of wine and Scotch that leave her feeling particularly neurotic and vulnerable. Her first efforts at following her husband (in her dressing gown, no less) prove unsuccessful when she loses him, but decides to go to her husband’s law firm instead – only to find that there is no law firm, never has been. Suddenly, Maggie’s world is spinning off kilter as she realizes that her entire marriage to Jack has been built on a lie. However, Maggie is determined to get to the bottom of things – quite literally – when she finds herself under a filthy bed in a tawdry motel room that charges by the hour, waiting to trap her conniving husband and ‘the other woman.’ Unfortunately, Maggie gets more than she bargained for when the door opens and the two lovers enter…

Supported by her ditzy best friend, Tina, her boyfriend-romancing mother, and a handbag big enough to hide a body in, Maggie Spalding has guts, determination and a penchant for impulsive – and not always the wisest - actions which land her in a whole lotta trouble. However, when elements outside of her control threaten the well-being of her family, Maggie is a force to be reckoned with, a mother tiger defending her brood at all costs. All You Need is Love (and a Big Handbag) has heart and unbelievable hi-jinks that will have readers chuckling as they quickly turn the pages, eager to see how the whole thing pans out. Although the end is a tad predictable, it doesn’t take away from the sheer enjoyment of reading a book where the main protagonist – a woman, no less - has more chutzpah than Hollywood’s entire roster of big screen action heroes! Atta girl, Mags – you go get ’em!

Kim Anisi

Maggie and Jack are the unlikely spouses All You Need is Love (And a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson is all about. Maggie, a geeky character, somehow managed to capture Jack's heart during high school - and he was the kind of guy all the girls wanted. Ten years into their marriage, however, something is wrong and Maggie suspects that Jack is cheating on her. These suspicions lead her to lying under the dingy bed in a cheap hotel in which you can rent rooms by the hour. And this is where the story starts.

The opening chapter is rather unusual and immediately catches your attention. I found the book to be short and was able to finish it in just one sitting. I mean, how can you stop reading when you want to know what happens next, and you can see that you are already halfway through the book? It is a nice little story, a nice read for in between more challenging novels. Sometimes, you just need a light-hearted story with odd occurrences! I enjoyed the way Maggie was telling her story, and she's definitely a very likeable character. I have no idea how she ended up with someone like Jack, who seems a bit odd with his antiques, but I guess the differences between them are the reasons why the story works.

Viga Boland

When you're craving a quick, easy read to take you away from the stresses of daily life, pick up a copy of All You Need is Love (and a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson. What a hilarious romp of a story! Reading this is like watching Lucille Ball trip over herself with silliness in an old episode of "I Love Lucy." It's sometimes that ridiculous and you laugh till your sides hurt, loving the narrator all the way to the end.

Picture this: Maggie, the narrator, lying under a bed in a sleazy motel, getting her hair caught in the bed springs while a couple goes at "it" above her. What on earth is she doing under there? Well, I'm not going to tell you and spoil your fun, but she's certainly not looking for the condoms she spots on the carpet beside her, that's for sure. All I will share is that Mags is the nerdy girl who snagged and married the college heart-throb, much to everyone's surprise and envy, and now, a couple of children later starts panicking when said husband, now a successful lawyer, consistently comes home late, sometimes not at all, with alcohol on his breath. What on earth is he up to?

Julie Hodgson is a multi-award winning author for a very good reason. She's a super-talented writer. She is so skilled at painting scenes with words, at showing and not just telling us what is going on, that readers see all the actions and people as clearly as if they were watching a movie. Colourful phrases roll off her tongue onto the page. Yet, one senses the tight editing that must have taken place to create a book as funny as this one where every sentence counts. It's like watching an accomplished stand-up comic deliver punch lines at just the right pace.

One reviewer said she read the book in one sitting. That's entirely believable: it is such an enjoyable read. Take it on the plane for your next flight to a vacation spot, and you'll be ready to party the minute you land. Julie Hodgson will have you feeling good before you take that first sip of pina colada. More like that please, Julie!

Sefina Hawke

All You Need is Love (And a big handbag) by Julie Hodgson is a romantic, humorous story that will appeal most to an audience made up primarily of adults, though some mature young adults, who enjoy romance stories with humor and adventure mixed in, may also enjoy the novel. The story follows Maggie, her husband Jake, and their children as Maggie attempts to discover if Jake is being unfaithful to her. Maggie’s quest to find the truth leads her into a dangerous adventure that she never would have expected.

I have to say right off the bat that the cover is not only beautifully done, but also serves as a true depiction of the story. The story has a really awesome beginning with how Maggie sums up her life with Jake, with her own unique brand of commentary in her thoughts, while hiding under a bed in a disgusting hotel room. I really liked the way that Maggie seemed to be actually speaking to me, the reader, and how she questioned herself on what she would do when Jake walked into the room. It really allowed me to get into her head and understand her as a character. I really enjoyed reading All You Need is Love by Julie Hodgson!

Jack Magnus

All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag is a contemporary romantic comedy written by Julie Hodgson. Maggie never thought her Jack would be a cheat. Their romance and marriage had been the stuff that dreams are made of, and they now had six-year-old twins. Something was off, however, Maggie could tell. They definitely didn't share that closeness and easy camaraderie anymore. Was it that she was older? She would be thirty-five soon, but so would he. They had met in college, and after a crazy beginning, they'd been mad about each other ever since. Maggie decided to make herself and the house over one Friday night, and she arranged for the boys to be away overnight with their grandmother. She waited and waited, and eventually felt ridiculous sitting alone in her sexy attire. Then one day, she found a card for a sleazy motel that rented rooms by the hour, and there was a woman's name and phone number on the back, written in Jack’s handwriting. Maggie was determined to confront the two of them, even if it meant hiding under the disgusting bed of that motel room.

Julie Hodgson's contemporary romantic comedy, All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag, is a breezy and funny story about a wife's efforts to get her man back, or at least to find out what the blazes is going on. The big handbag? A security blanket of sorts that had kept Maggie company through college and had eventually been relegated to the closet until now, when the familiar seemed to have gotten very strange very fast. Hodgson's plot is unpredictable and as quirky as her heroine is, and her writing is a joy to read. Maggie and her friend, the perennially ebullient Tina, are fabulous foils for each other, and getting to know the absentee Jack through Maggie's eyes works just fine. I thoroughly enjoyed All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag; it's a lighthearted romp that's most highly recommended.

Maria Beltran

In Julie Hodgson’s All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag, bookish and awkward Maggie enters college, not expecting to be noticed by anyone, let alone by Jack, the most handsome and adventurous man on campus. Lugging a big handbag everywhere, Maggie is dubbed Mary Poppins by her friend, Tina, but she hangs onto her bag for dear life. Maggie and Jack eventually get married and settle into a happy and normal life with their twin sons, but there is no such thing as a fairy tale. So when Jack starts behaving strangely, Maggie becomes suspicious enough to hire a detective to get to the bottom of their marriage. What follows is a hilarious turn of events that lands her under the bed of a sleazy room in a cheap motel with a big handbag by her side.

In All You Need is Love: And a Big Handbag, Julie Hodgson establishes the story’s mood in a very subtle way - she does not over exaggerate the tension, instead she draws it out slowly and steadily and sets this humorous book apart from all the others. And although handsome guy falls in love with clumsy girl is not a very original plot, the dynamics here between the main protagonists, Maggie and Jack, somehow come across as refreshing and not contrived. Told from the point of view of Maggie, who is bothered by the thought of a philandering husband, and surrounded by characters like her colorful best friend Tina and her sexually active mother, no one could have expected the way in which All You Need is Love comes to its end.

Deborah Lloyd

All You Need Is Love (And A Big Handbag) is the perfect summer read – fast-paced, adventurous, humorous, audacious. Jack Spaulding and Maggie Tate were an unlikely college couple; he was a daredevil, handsome and popular. Maggie was on the nerdy side, serious and bookish. But they fell in love, have been married for ten years, and have 6-year-old twin sons. Jack seems less interested in Maggie, and she suspects he is being unfaithful. She even finds evidence on a business card from his pants’ pocket. Maggie’s private investigative work leads to many funny – and dangerous – circumstances in All You Need Is Love (And A Big Handbag) by Julie Hodgson. The characters of Maggie’s love-life-focused mother, and her free-spirited best friend Tina, add to the hilarity of the novel. Maggie’s ventures begin to spin out of control as the story takes many unexpected twists and turns.

Author Julie Hodgson takes the reader on an adventurous ride in All You Need Is Love (And A Big Handbag). The novel begins with Maggie in a most unlikely setting (under the bed in Room 6 of a sleazy motel). Maggie gives background information as to how and why she is there. Through her explanation, the reader gets a clear picture of her personality, her insecurities, and her relationship with Jack. Eventually, the meaning of the big handbag is also explained. Ms. Hodgson writes with clarity; she is able to craft a great story in a short, quick read. The reader is engaged from the first page until the last one, wondering what Maggie will do next. The story is intriguing and fun!