Review: How to Marry Harry

Reviewed by L A Morgan

How to Marry Harry is a light-hearted romance where two sisters set off on a quest for love - with one’s heart set on one of the world’s most eligible bachelors.

Once upon a time, a light-hearted romance novel called How to Marry Harry might have centred around a fairy-tale romance with one Harry Windsor and how it lead to a supposedly charmed royal life. But now that Prince Harry is taken, we now know that modern princesses don’t necessarily see this life as desirable.

Better to set your sights on a prince of pop – like former One Direction singer Harry Styles where there will be less scrutiny of your finances, fashion and noble deeds. That’s sort of the idea that drives this fan-fiction debut novel by sisters Nikki Perry and Kirsty Roby.

Here, two single sisters from Wellington head to the other side of the world where adventure surely awaits. Jo is divorced, bored and in need of some excitement in her life so she convinces her widowed sister, Bobbi, to join her on a trip to the United Kingdom. Bobbi thinks it’s to scatter their beloved late uncle’s ashes at a priory in Scotland. Jo, though, has other plans which give the book its title and more unique plot.

Little does Bobbi know that Jo plans for them to follow Harry Styles on his UK tour, accompanied by a cardboard cut-out of her daughter, Bayley, in the hope they’ll meet Harry and somehow convince him to marry Bayley. Whatever happened to simply grabbing an autograph? It’s part of Jo’s attempt to re-live an uneventful youth - and reclaim some of an uneventful adult life too - and she’s encouraged by Bobbi who likes a good time but has a melancholier past which has perhaps fuelled a ‘to hell with it’ attitude.

A life unfulfilled and travel to the other side of the world are, of course, familiar tropes in novels of this nature but from the outset, there was an air of silly humour about the book. I often found my attention wandering; lengthy explanations for certain scenes became confusing while the lack of substance failed to draw me in. There were also elements that were blindingly obvious, and the predictable ending felt hurried as the story came to an abrupt and underwhelming conclusion.

But there were positives such as the characters themselves who are likeable with an authentic sisterly humour. Jo and Bobbi’s banter and shenanigans are genuinely funny and ring true as exactly the sort of antics close siblings indulge in. Perry and Roby add an extra layer when the duo meets Adam, a teenager who is skipping school to follow Harry and hasn’t told his father, a Scottish whisky distillery owner, where he is. The meeting provides the impetus for Jo to come over all maternal and decide to deliver Adam safely back.

The odd video conversation the women have with their family back home adds an element of connection and shows how warmth and encouragement can be shared between families regardless of where they are in the world. Of course, that’s rather timely given our current circumstances and reflects the fact that Perry and Roby started writing during our first nationwide lockdown.

So, I appreciated these aspects of the book and some factual elements, like a potted history when a wild goose chase around the Highland ensues. Perhaps I was trying to pin the book down to a specific genre; it could be romance but the title and, although they are older, some of the characters’ antics could be right in a young adult novel.

All that said, How to Marry Harry is enjoyable and if I were giving stars, I would award three out of five. It’s a sound debut novel and the real-life sisters could well build on this to produce some other more captivating work, so I’ll look forward to reading future publications.

 Reviewed by L A Morgan