Thursday 27 June 2019

Messy Wonderful Us By Catherine Isaac Book Review*

You know when you start a book not really sure if it's going to be for you or not and then it ends up taking you completely by surprise? That happened to me with The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft earlier this year and for different reasons, I felt exactly the same once I had finished Messy Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac. I read the synopsis of this and though it maybe wasn't typically something I'd reach for over an obvious romance book, there was something about it that drew me in straight away and I felt compelled to read it. Just to be clear, I received a copy from NetGalley to review, so now let's see if I can manage to do it some justice!
Book to the left hand side. Cover is a pastel green with flowers around the edges and lemon trees. Lemons placed to the right hand side, white wooden flooring background
'One morning in early Summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy. Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn't know the reason for her trip, and Allie can't bring herself to tell him that she's flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago. Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden seperation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up. But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don't merely concern her family's tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.'

My review

After a sneak peak in her Grandma Peggy's wardrobe to check for something, Allie uncovers a letter which was never meant to be found. This letter contains secrets that were never supposed to be revealed. What happens next is Allie's journey to Italy to discover if the man who has raised her is really her father or if Stefano, the man she had no idea about until recently is about to change her whole life. We start with Allie who I really warmed to right from the start. She's an incredibly intelligent woman, currently working as an academic research scientist, and though there are elements which maybe at times could come across as a little stand-offish, I found I just genuinely really, really liked her. Surprisingly I also didn't find the details of her work too confusing given I'm absolutely awful at anything to do with science. The book delves into her work life every so often and we see just how passionate she is about the projects she's working on and how determined she is to make a change for people, and I just found that really endearing. 

We only get glimpses into Ed's life at the beginning but I felt the detail was enough to get a clear picture of him as a person, his toxic relationship with wife Julia, and why he and Allie had remained such good friends since teenagers. He was interesting and clearly a match for Allie, in whichever way that might be. He was someone I always wanted to know more about so it was nice that the book became about uncovering and exploring both his and Allie's relationships, with each other and with other people. Though the story is primarily told by Allie's point of view, there are times we hear from Ed and something else which also surprised me, we also hear a lot from Grandma Peggy who ends up having many secrets of her own. Some that truly shocked me and changed up the whole story! It's clear each time we switch to another person which I found useful as sometimes when there are multiple characters telling their own story, it can get a little all over the place.

I think the title Messy Wonderful Us sums up this book perfectly. The friendship between Ed and Allie does become messy at times, there are hints that maybe there's more than just platonic feelings for both of them but could they ever really explore that? Ed and Julia clearly have a turbulent relationship, and the topic of domestic abuse is spoken about which I certainly wasn't expecting, and then there's the themes of loss and grief which affects a number of characters throughout. All of the tough subjects though are dealt with delicately and realistically. It might not have all these twists and turns many people wait for in a book, but it doesn't need them. It's packed full of real life things which I think only makes it even easier to fall in love with everything about it.

A lot of the book takes place in Italy too which certainly helps aswell. It makes such a wonderful setting for the story. Catherine's writing almost transports you to each place they visit on their quest to find Stefano, I just want to go even more now! 

I'm still surprised by just how taken I feel by this book. I honestly never expected to love it quite as much as I do. It's bittersweet, pulls at your heartstrings and leaves you gripped right til the very end. If you like an emotional drama, this is the book for you.

*I was provided with a free copy for the purpose of this review

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jennyinneverland said...

This sounds like a lovely book. Although I tend to stray more towards horror or thriller or something disturbing - I do love a family drama type novel now and again!


Debbie said...

I love a good book that takes you totally be surprise. It's awesome

Tiffany Timms said...

Me too, I'm always after a thriller but this was a nice change! x

Tiffany Timms said...

I hoped I'd like this but it totally took me by surprise, such a good read x

Sophie said...

This sounds like a pleasant read, I like something that takes you on a few twists and turns. I prefer something a bit darker though x


Imogen's Typewriter. said...

I have a copy of this and wow! You sold me on finally picking it up!
Imogen’s Typewriter. <3

Tiffany Timms said...

I do usually but this was really interesting, so glad I read it! x

Tiffany Timms said...

Yay I hope you enjoy it too :)

Heather Nixon said...

I LOVE that cover x

Tiffany Timms said...

Stunning isn't it?!

Lady Writes said...

This one sounds like my kind of read! x

Joy said...

I love any book that has anything to do with Italy :)

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