Magnificent Mess

Fiction - New Adult
388 Pages
Reviewed on 11/01/2023
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Free Book Program, which is open to all readers and is completely free. The author will provide you with a free copy of their book in exchange for an honest review. You and the author will discuss what sites you will post your review to and what kind of copy of the book you would like to receive (eBook, PDF, Word, paperback, etc.). To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Magnificent Mess by Elizabeth Standish is an entertaining story of a young woman who wants to find her own path and defy the odds. Emmalyn, a.k.a. Emma, was tired of following the orders of her controlling mother. Her mother wanted her to complete law school in Denver and then join the family law firm. However, that was not what Emma wanted. Her best friend Kim wanted to help distract her in the best way possible: with the alluring, handsome, and irresistible Patrick. Emma was definitely attracted to him. However, things changed when Emma was given the opportunity to study in Ireland for the summer. There, she met the fascinating Alex. He was everything she wanted and more. Emma thought going away to Ireland would help her find the answers she desperately needed, but it made her more confused. Was she supposed to stay in Ireland with Alex and carve out a new path? Or was she supposed to go back and follow the destiny her mother wanted with Patrick by her side?

Fascinating, to say the least, Magnificent Mess is everything I hoped it would be. Emma’s character is very realistic. I enjoyed how determined she was to find her own way in life. Her trip to Ireland was eye-opening for her and will be for readers too. Her growth from there onward was fast but very satisfying. Emma grew surer of herself and finally started to realize what she wanted. The narrative style and the descriptions were incredible. Elizabeth Standish makes sure her words hold the attention of readers until the end. The descriptions created images in my mind, especially when Emma was in Ireland. I felt like I was with Emma as she enjoyed Ireland, fell in love, and then confronted her emotions. The ending was so very satisfying, too! The author created a perfect story with a strong protagonist, a fast-paced flow, and an incredible plot. I cannot recommend it enough.

K.J. Simmill

In Elizabeth Standish’s Magnificent Mess, Emma did everything she could to make her mother happy, to earn her pride and approval, but it was never enough; she always fell short. Even when she was bringing home ribbons, her mother only ever highlighted the flaws in her performance. Going to law school had never been Emma’s dream, and yet, there she was, once more trying to win her mother’s approval, to continue the family legacy. Everything she did was for that woman, even the men she was drawn to were those her mother would approve of. Until Patrick. Patrick was not her type, and yet she found herself drawn to him, her world revolving around a man who only knew how to blow hot and cold in his distant indecision. Emma must learn to live for herself, but how can she do that when she doesn’t even know who she is, to begin with?

Magnificent Mess is the perfect title for this book because that is exactly what Emmalyn is; one huge mess of a young woman who has no idea what she wants or what to do with her life. Her mother is a blatant narcissist. It’s no wonder Emma's relationships are so messed up, that she clings on to someone who is, at best, apathetic and indifferent because the times the affection they do show is something she so desperately needs. Elizabeth Standish has perfectly portrayed a narcissistic personality and the resulting effect on the characters down to a T. It was infuriating to watch Emma make the same mistakes over and over again while fighting a constant battle to discover who she is and what she wants, but old patterns and habits quickly pull her from her path. This book is well written, filled with drama and frustration, and seeing the gradual change in Emma as she starts to pursue her own happiness is worth every second of heartache and frustration.

K.C. Finn

Magnificent Mess is a work of fiction in the new adult, interpersonal drama, and slice-of-life subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Elizabeth Standish, the work invites readers to enjoy a poignant exploration of a young woman's journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance after college. Emma, the protagonist, is at a crossroads in her life, torn between her mother's expectations of a legal career and her own desires. With interfering friends and new love interests springing up everywhere, Emma opts for a sudden leap to a new country, but this only serves to make things even more complex.

Author Elizabeth Standish has crafted a work that is packed to the brim with charm and emotion. What makes this book truly engaging is its authentic portrayal of Emma's internal struggles and the relatable challenges she faces in navigating her post-college life. As Emma embarks on the summer study program in Ireland, the story takes an intriguing turn, always maintaining a good pace through developments to keep us on our toes. I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Ireland's beauty and Emma's personal experiences in a new culture. The introduction of Alex adds another layer of complexity, and all of the exchanges between friends and potential lovers are filled with sharp, engaging dialogue that speaks authentically of a young person finding her feet. Overall, Magnificent Mess is a heartfelt and relatable coming-of-age story that celebrates the journey of understanding oneself, accepting one's flaws, and finding a sense of belonging. I would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of emotionally resonant and deeply enjoyable dramas.

Stephanie Chapman

Elizabeth Standish’s Magnificent Mess is about Emma’s desire for her mother’s approval. All Emma ever wanted was for her mother to be proud of her. As a child, she had competed in show jumping but only received Virginia’s critical remarks about how she could have ridden better. Now she is enrolled at Denver University, her mother insists she become a lawyer. Her friend, Kim, introduces Emma to Patrick, and it is love at first sight. However, despite what they have in common, Patrick stops spending time with Emma during the holidays. Patrick also refuses to be called Emma’s boyfriend, saying she is only a friend. Feeling rejected, she tries to rekindle the spark with him and they end up in bed for one night. The following day, he ignores her as though it never happened. Emma must escape from her mother’s anger and mend her broken heart.

Elizabeth Standish created an engrossing novel about Emma's quest for acceptance. She lacked self-esteem and looked for approval in every facet of her life. I thought Patrick’s living situation was odd, and I became suspicious of him. Virginia was overcritical and lacked empathy for her daughter. I could relate to how Emma felt, as her mother only focused on what she perceived were faults. The author presents a subtle theme of Emma taking control of her life instead of allowing others to dictate her actions. I watched every moment through Emma’s eyes, and her emotional turmoil was realistic. The vivid descriptions of Ireland were enchanting, and I felt as though I was riding on the mountain with her. I also learned that graduating with a law degree doesn’t guarantee you can be an attorney. The book documented the transition through her three years in the law program with dates, which also gave an easy-to-follow timeline. Readers who enjoy watching characters overcome mental obstacles will like Magnificent Mess.

Angelique Papayannopoulos

Magnificent Mess by Elizabeth Standish is the story of Emma, a college graduate trying to figure out what she should study for her future. Her domineering mother is pressuring her to go to law school and join the family firm. The two constantly disagree and argue with each other. Half-heartedly, Emma joins law school and though she hates it, she perseveres and struggles along through her bar exams. Her best friend Kim hooks her up with a colleague, Patrick. Emma finds him intriguing and appealing since they both share a passion for horses. Patrick, however, keeps giving Emma mixed signals, thus frustrating her further. During a summer law study abroad, she meets Alex, a studious law student, who stands by her side throughout her chaos and confusion. As Emma embarks on a quest for self-discovery, she embraces her demons and finds that things have a way of working themselves out in the end.

Magnificent Mess is a light-hearted and entertaining coming-of-age novel. Elizabeth Standish has written a tale about Emma that is a version of her own and is manifested in the authenticity of the narrative. The reader becomes engrossed in Emma's story of despondency and rebelliousness, empathizing with the difficulties young adults face as they cope with high expectations of parents and relationship pressures. The situation resonated with me since I too grew up with strict parents who had high expectations and felt despondent at times in my youth. Throughout the book, the author shows how one's blunders can be turned into stepping stones for overcoming challenges and opening up to great opportunities. This novel is characterized by themes of determination, acceptance, refusing to give up, and going with the flow. Young adults to older readers will enjoy this easy-reading novel. An awesome book that I was able to relate to.