Okay Days by Jenny Mustard: ‘Would you like to dance?’

Cover image for Okay Days by Jenny MustardI was looking for something undemanding when I spotted Jenny Mustard’s debut, praised to the skies by Rowan Hisayo Buchannan whose fiction I’ve very much enjoyed. That lowkey but attractive cover also swayed me a little. Okay Days follows Sam and Lucas, both in their late twenties, over a year beginning at the party at which they become reacquainted after a decade.

These two months with Sam were final orders. Our last irresponsible summer, the deep breath before the plunge.

Already well on the way to a successful career, Sam is on a placement at a London marketing company thanks to a bit of networking through a friend’s mother. She’s Swedish-Romanian, from a large extended family in contrast to Lucas, or Luc as she calls him, an only child who lost his mother at twelve. The night they bump into other again sees the beginning of a hedonistic summer together, a fling they both know will end when Sam returns to Stockholm. When they wave goodbye at the airport, Lucas thinks its time to properly apply himself, ditch his hip boutique job and find the green engineering position he’s set his sights on. As he heads home, he listens to Sam’s Spotify list and can’t quite bring himself to log out of her account. Neither, it seems, can quite let each other go, Sam arranging a brief reprise on a Greek island which leads to a decision, later upended by the first crisis in their relationship.

They were thresholding. Acting as adults climbing the property ladder and inventing baby names, at the same time as holding on, with white-knuckled optimism to their youth.

Alternating Sam and Lucas’ narratives, Mustard cleverly structures her novel as two countdown sections so that we know we’re heading towards some kind of resolution but we’re not at all sure what it might be. Both are engaging and likeable characters: Sam throwing herself into partying, gregarious and yet often anxious and unconfident; Lucas serious, vulnerable and considerate. Each is very different from the other, yet they complement each other well. I found myself rooting for them as Mustard’s novel follows the entirely believable trajectory of their relationship. Not one to shout about from the rooftops but an enjoyable, absorbing and ultimately cheering piece of fiction whose quiet jacket suits it well.

Sceptre Books: London 9781399713467 352 pages Hardback (read via NetGalley)

14 thoughts on “Okay Days by Jenny Mustard: ‘Would you like to dance?’”

  1. This looks perfect for the lazy days of summer (said she, looking out of the window wondering whether it’s at all worth hanging the washing out).

  2. This does sound a good relaxing read, everything about the cover appeals to me with it’s quiet laid back title and I love the name Jenny Mustard!

  3. Always good to keep a list of the ones that have a bit of cheer in them, so one can turn to one between the depressing or heavier ones, and this sounds a good one to have on the list!

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