Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance by Frances Maynard | My second attempt to find a new favorite!

I desperately keep searching for books similar to «Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine». I would love to experience again the same emotions I felt towards Eleanor and her complicated and messed up life. And I keep falling for the blurbs “for fans of Eleanor Oliphant” and then get disappointed when the book doesn’t live up to my expectations. 

This happened with «Where’d You Go, Bernadette» and now again with «Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance» by Frances Maynard. These books weren’t bad! (although, I hated Bernadette with all my heart!). And, in fact, I’d like to read another book by Frances Maynard – «The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr», which sounds way more like something I’ll love.

goodreads blurb:

Small and dyslexic, with a short fuse, bad teeth, a prison record and something to prove, Marguerite McNaughton – Maggsie – doesn’t need anybody or anything, thank you very much. She’s more than capable of looking after herself. She’s also about to discover that everyone needs someone, sometimes. 
Even her.

The thing about trusting others, though, is that not everyone is trustworthy…

It starts when a fellow inmate gives Maggsie reading lessons. Then she’s offered a job in London as a kitchen assistant, together with supported accommodation and a colleague who seems determined to befriend Maggsie, no matter what. At first, Maggsie is convinced nothing will change. Especially her. But maybe this time can be different? Maybe Maggsie can be different – if she can just put her previous mistakes behind her and her trust in the right people.


Thank you Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.

Maggsie, Marguerite, McNaughton is an ex-convict, who didn’t have an easy life. Angry at the world and the system, Maggsie tried to create a new, normal life for herself. But creating something, that she never experienced before, from scratch can prove to be rather difficult.

There were two main conflicts between me and the book: the lack of emotion from my part and the lack of immersiveness from the book. So let’s discuss these first before I talk about some positive elements. 

1 – I love reading books about characters that are different from me, I love experiencing with them situations I’d usually never put myself into. The differences are what intrigues me, but the emotions are what sucks me into the story.  Maggsie McNaughton didn’t make me feel anything, except annoyance at her attitude.

Maggsie is not a lovable character, and that would be alright if I’d experience some other positive emotion towards her or her life story – respect, pride, interest, affection, or even pity. Instead, I felt like I was SUPPOSED to root for Maggsie, but couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at every outburst of her temperament or silly actions. 

2 Everyone has their own bookish pet peeves. My biggest two are (1) swear words and (2) weirdly constructed sentences. They work like a switch, immediately pulling me out of the story. 

Maggsie is dyslexic. So, of course, I understand the need to portray that as part of her character, showing through dialog her struggles and also her improvements. But I found it very distracting. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Besides these two points, the rest was alright. Not as surprising or impressive as I hoped for, but not bad either:

1 – The highlight of the whole story for me was the friendship between Maggsie and her co-worker, an immigrant from Poland, who was just the right character to balance out Maggsie’s imperfection. Kind, eager to help, he took it upon himself to show Maggsie that life can be beautiful and interesting. Full of struggles, yes. But worth every moment nonetheless. 

He was by far the most wholesome character of this book. 

2 – Although I completely bashed Maggsie’s character, I have to admit that she had a few qualities that deserve some appreciation – stubbornness and persistence. She had a goal that she wished to accomplish. It drove her forwards and gave her hope. And maybe sometimes it felt as if she was only taking baby steps to achieve it, but those steps were huge leaps for Maggsie. 

My rating

Initially, I gave this book two stars. But after writing my review I realized that there were quite a few positive things that I couldn’t or wouldn’t think about after finishing it, as I was so frustrated with the story. It felt right to bump my rating to three stars!

Would I recommend this book?

Only if you’re already a fan of Frances Maynard books. However, I’m intrigued to read another book by the same author – «The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr». My quest to find “books like «Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine»” continues! 


goodreads blurb:

Elvira Carr believes in rules. She also strongly believes in crisp schedules, clear guidelines, and taking people at face value. Not that the twenty-seven-year-old sees many people. After several unfortunate incidents, her overbearing mother keeps her at home.

But when her mother has a stroke, Elvira is suddenly on her own. To help her navigate a world that is often puzzling, she draws up seven ironclad rules. Armed with these, a notebook full of questions, and guidance from a helpful neighbor, she takes charge of herself ― and realizes that something isn’t quite right about the life she thought she knew.

She’ll need all the courage, perseverance and curious charm she can muster to unravel the mystery of what happened to her family and to manager her own life, her way.

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4 thoughts on “Maggsie McNaughton’s Second Chance by Frances Maynard | My second attempt to find a new favorite!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I actually prefer reading books that aren’t perfect (does that even make sense? 😀 ) I just find them much easier to review than the books I loved (those usually receive “fan girl screaming” type of review) Ahah

      Liked by 1 person

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