Thursday, 3 January 2013
Review: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane
Released: December 6th, 2012
‘Think of the great duos of history. We're just like them.’ ‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’ ‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’ 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. Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.
I am in no way an expert on adult novels, I only read a few a year (if that) and have my favourites. I'd heard about You Had Me At Hello from various different people and decided to give it a go. The cover didn't make me particularly enthused, but I'm so glad I tried it anyway because I loved it!
One of the elements that really stood out for me was the setting: Manchester! I don't live far from there and visit regularly, so knowing all the places being talked about was great and gave the story a familiarity I don't usually find. I also loved the humour and sarcasm present throughout McFarlane's writing. I laughed out loud SO many times, thanks to main character Rachel's sarcastic comments and thoughts. The dialogue was quick and realistic and I could easily imagine real people talking that way.
As always I don't want to spoil any of the plot in this review, so I'll tread carefully. Basically, Rachel and Ben knew each other at university and bump into each other again ten years later. Do old feelings still exist? Can they still be friends? McFarlane explores every facet of their relationship and the conclusion is both poignant and surprising. I was happy with the outcome, though, and I can see why the book has been likened to similar time-spanning novels such as One Day.
You Had Me At Hello also features a well-rounded, brilliantly likeable cast of secondary characters in the form of Rachel and Ben's friends and colleagues. Even the questionable men are likeable in their idiotic ways, and don't even get me started on Rachel's trio of best friends - Caroline, Mindy and Ivor. They were so supportive and down to earth, and had maintained their friendship since university!
Rachel's profession as a newspaper journalist played a big part in her story, and I found it to be an interesting addition that added a lot to the overall narrative of the novel. It gave her more depth and realism, which is always welcome! I did think the beginning was a bit rushed at first, and the break-up between Rachel and Rhys seemed unbelievable. It was only as the narrative revisited the past later in the book that it made more sense and seemed like something that might actually happen after such a long time together. I was glad it was addressed as it bugged me right from the beginning.
You Had Me At Hello is definitely going on my list of favourite adult books, and I will now be recommending it to everyone I know who reads this genre (unsuspecting customers at work had better watch out!). I'm so looking forward to reading more by Mhairi McFarlane, though I'm going to have to exercise some patience as her next novel isn't out until December 2013. Yikes. Wish me book luck!