Title: Just Like You
Author: Nick Hornby
Pages: 368 Pages
The person you are with is just like you: same background, same age, same interests. The perfect match. And it is a disaster.
Then, when and where you least expect it, you meet someone new. You seem to have nothing in common and yet, somehow, it feels totally right.
Nick Hornby’s brilliantly observed, tender but also brutally funny new novel gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person – someone who is not just like you at all.
Set against the backdrop of Brexit Britain Lucy and Joseph meet, start dating and become an unlikely couple. All so simple so far, however when they come from two completely different worlds the cracks start to appear. Joseph is a 20something aspiring musician and doesn’t really have a focus in life whereas Lucy is in her 40s, a divorcee with two children. Their lives seem so completely different that it is hard to see just how they could possible work in partnership.
I really enjoyed Just Like You. It was an interesting concept that has been explored paralleling the difficulties of a Brexit society. The time setting shows just how disparate and divided society is and because of this the relationship barriers between Lucy and Joseph appeared more realistic. It was especially frustrating when you empathised more with one character (for me, Lucy) when Joseph didn’t seem to have formed a view point on certain contentious topics. This cleverly showed the distance between age and experience between the two characters. However, you did kind of root for them as a couple. Even with their differences they seemed better together than apart.
Just Like You ends in a really positive and hopeful way with you enjoying the possibility that a world entrenched in diversity can still come together.
Just Like You by Nick Hornby is available now.
For more information regarding Nick Hornby (@nickhornby) please visit www.facebook.com/nickhornby.uk
For more information regarding Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.
Title: Come Again
Author: Robert Webb
Pages: 304 Pages
Publisher: Canongate Books
You can’t fall in love for the first time twice . . .
Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart.
One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this is the day she first meets Luke.
But Luke is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same . . .
Kate Marsden is grieving. She is grieving hard. Her husband of 28 years – Luke – has just died of a brain tumour and all she wants to do is to join him on the other side.
However, when life gives her a second chance with Luke form the day she first met him at university Kate does everything in her power to save his life. Yet it comes at a cost.
Okay, so this was a risky little story for me because I am not a fan of Groundhog Day and I get myself well stressed out with time travel movies (except Back to the Future). I get really confused and my brain starts to melt a little bit when presented with this kind of story. However, Webb created a story in which the technicality of time travel or other dimensions is secondary to the heart of the story which is the relationship, the love story.
Come Again is broken down in to three parts and I will admit by the third part I was a little unsure as to where the story was going but there is an overriding element of fun that kept me reading. That is definitely the best way to describe Come Again – fun. If you can suspend your disbelief then you will definitely enjoy it.
Come Again by Robert Webb is available now.
For more information regarding Robert Webb (@arobertwebb) please visit his Twitter page.
For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.
Title: Hot Mess
Author: Lucy Vine
Pages: 304 Pages
Hot Mess [n.] – someone who is attractive, but often in a state of disarray, repeatedly finding themselves in uncomfortable predicaments.
Ellie Knight is just like you. Her life isn’t turning out the way she thought it would. Some people might say she’s a hot mess but then who really has their s**t together before they’re thirty?
It’s Valentine’s Day and Ellie Knight finds herself eating Nutella in the bar stockroom after a no-show date.
But single doesn’t have to be the loneliest number, does it?
She goes back home to her flatshare and weird flatmates.
It’s ok there’s black mould everywhere, right?
With a hangover from hell, she goes to the office job she thought she would have quit by now.
Doesn’t everyone hate their job?
Maybe Ellie isn’t following the *official life plan* but perfect is overrated. For fans of Fleabag and Girls, this is a fresh and funny coming-of-age story with a single-girl heroine that everyone will relate to – a modern Carrie Bradshaw meets Bridget Jones.
It has been a long time since I have read a new adult book that has had me clutching my sides giggling but that was exactly my response to Lucy Vine’s Hot Mess. It is the story of soon-to-be-thirty Ellie who is dealing with the rules and expectations put on women by society and perpetuated by the people around them. And it is bloody brilliant.
It would be remiss of me to not say that Hot Mess did make me think of Fleabag meets My Dad Wrote a Porno. It has the same tone and a weirdly similar set up but since I also loved Fleabag I don’t see this as a bad thing and I think this was released first but just so there are no surprises I felt I should include it.
Ellie is the perfect heroine. Yes, she acts on her own terms later rather than sooner but she is a modern day heroine and I seriously wish that she had her own series of books rather than just a stand-alone novel.
Hot Mess by Lucy Vine is available now.
For more information regarding Lucy Vine (@Lecv) please visit her Twitter page.
For more information regarding Orion (@orionbooks) please visit www.orion.co.uk.
Title: The Confession
Author: Jessie Burton
Pages: 455 Pages
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .
From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, The Confession is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.
I love a good family saga. I love family secrets and I love the journeys that characters will go on to find out the truth. That is exactly what I got in Jessie Burton’s The Confession. In this novel Rose Simmons is trying to find out the truth about her mother. Her father is reluctant to talk about it but a series of clues lead her to someone who was once her mother’s lover. This is when Rose’s deception begins.
In this novel we see a character who is desperate to know who she is and where she comes from. It is her desperation that makes us feel sorry for her even when she is making dubious life choices and also makes us yell at the book when we know what she is doing is wrong. Big fat spanking wrong.
Jessie Burton is one of those writers that you can just trust to bring you the best possible story. She has nailed it once more with The Confession. If you like family mysteries and books that take you to different time periods then you must read The Confession by Jessie Burton.
The Confession by Jessie Burton is available now.
For more information regarding Picador (@picadorbooks) please visit their Twitter page.
Title: Normal People
Author: Sally Rooney
Pages: 288 Pages
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.
This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.
For anyone who loves reading it has been near impossible to ignore the hype surrounding Sally Rooney. I was curious to find out if her writing was worth all the fuss.
I would say that the fuss is about 90% accurate.
Normal People is the story of Connell and Marianne, two young adults who are inextricably linked by a class division. They both go to the same school, at times matriculate in the same circles and both live in the same area. The difference is that Connell’s mum works for Marianne’s family. It is a Pretty in Pink class reversal that first leads to the awkwardness between the two characters.
Over the course of 288 pages we see both characters inexplicably enter and leave each others’ lives and whilst in stories of a similar ilk – for example, One Day by David Nicholls – I did not find myself screaming at the pages for the two characters to be together. They were both self-destructive and their union would never end well.
What Rooney does successfully is speak without speaking. She never over explains the characters feelings; she allows the reader find their own way. I just wish I could control her characters more.
Normal People by Sally Rooney is available now.
For more information regarding Sally Rooney (@sallyrooney) please visit her Twitter page.
For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.