Friday 14 June 2019

You Had Me At Hello By Mhairi McFarlane

You know when you finish a book and you're sad to say goodbye to the characters? Well that's how I felt when I turned the last page of You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane.
Book placed in the centre, books to the right hand side in the back, gold copper candle holder to the left
'What happens when the one that got away comes back? Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It's been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away. They'd been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she's never been able to mend.'

My review

This is one of those books that was quite a slow burn for me. Literally within the first few pages, I found myself having to re-read a few paragraphs and straight away I got a bit of a sinking feeling. Sometimes when you start a book, you can just tell straight away whether it's for you or not. It just started off very 'wordy' and like so much was being packed in when it didn't need to be. Luckily that soon improved within a few chapters and after that I was away with it, looking forward to picking it up again each time I had to begrudgingly put it down. 

The first thing that warmed me to this book was that part of it is set in Sheffield, my hometown, with the rest being in Manchester, so I felt I could get a really clear idea of how each character would sound, and what the settings were like. It just felt comforting reading something that felt close to home. This probably helped me warm to the characters too, as from the start I really liked Rachel. A mature and intelligent woman with a vulnerable streak, someone you can relate to. She first meets Ben at the start of university, Rachel has a boyfriend but Ben is single so a wonderful friendship ensues. The thing is though they are both secretly in love with one another, but neither wants to be the one to possibly ruin what they already have. After university, with both of them leading separate lives, they meet again 13 years later. This time Rachel is newly single but Ben is happily married, or so it seems, and from then on it is very much a will they, won't they story of two people who you know are destined to be together. My kind of book.

To get more of the backstory between Rachel and Ben, the book occasionally goes back to their time at uni, we find out more about how they grew to become so close, we meet people that remain present in Rachel's story throughout and we see how it all sort of fell apart for them. I loved that we got this insight and it meant that we got to hear so much more about characters like Caroline, Ivor & Mindy, Rachel's closest friends. Whilst this might be primarily a romantic read, it's also heavily focused on friendships, it's about other people just as much as Rachel and Ben, and it's kind of just an honest account of life. How things don't always work out as we plan and how messy it can be at times. It was real.

Whilst the storyline might not necessarily be something that hasn't been done many times before, Mhairi's writing is one that does keep you hooked no matter what. Like I said at the start, at times I did find it a bit too detailed but that didn't matter by the end because she has so much wit and humour, and just put so much feeling into the book. I felt like the characters were people I knew and I just didn't want Rachel and Ben's story to be over. Maybe an epilogue would have been the perfect touch to really round off their love story, but that's just me wanting more.

If you're after a romantic read that will make you smile, cry and want to read about the characters forever, then You Had Me At Hello is that. I'd love to know if you've read it too and what your thoughts were!

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Tea Time and Books said...

I completely agree, I really struggled to get into it, but I actually really enjoyed it by the time I was finishing it. Rachel and Ben felt like old friends and I didn't want to stop reading! I think there may be a novella for this, I'm sure I downloaded it on my kindle last year sometime but I don't think I ever got around to it!

jennyinneverland said...

It's a shame you struggled to get into this one. I don't mind a slow burner sometimes but it has to be done right. Sometimes it just feels like such a slog! Sounds like a sweet storyline though!


Heather Nixon said...

I'm not really into romantic reads but I like the cover x

Lady Writes said...

This sounds like my kinda book! Might have to take it on holiday with me x

Tiffany Timms said...

Ooh I will have to have a look, thank you! Don't feel ready for their story to be over yet xx

Tiffany Timms said...

Yeah it's always a shame when a book takes forever to get going! Luckily this improved and by the end I loved it xx

Tiffany Timms said...

It's a really pretty cover isn't it!

Tiffany Timms said...

You should definitely pick it up if you see it! Would be a good holiday read x

Sophie said...

This sounds like it has great potential, I struggle with slow burns sometimes though x


Joy said...

This sounds good. Thanks for the recommendation

Tiffany Timms said...

I do too Sophie, luckily this picked up eventually xx

Tiffany Timms said...

No problem Joy x

Anonymous said...

It’s often the way that storylines are repeated in romantic fiction and they can be very predictable but it’s the great characters that keep you reading. Good characters are the key to any story!


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