Saturday 13 February 2016

Reviewed: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

You and Me, Always was published in ebook and hardback by Headline on January 28, 2016.

Thanks to Lizzie at Headline for sending me a copy of this book to review.

You and Me, Always is typical Jill Mansell and I mean that in the best possible way. This is now the fourth of Jill’s books I have read and I loved every single moment – full of joy and character and moments to make you smile and sigh with happiness and intricate links between the characters that are just too perfect for words. The book opens brilliantly, a lovely introduction to some of the most viral characters with a tandem scene that had me almost crying with laughter. The story had me actually crying just a few pages later as protagonist Lily reads the final letter from her mum, who passed away several years ago but had written a letter for Lily to read every birthday up until she was twenty-five. The mixture early on of humour and emotion lured me into becoming fully invested in the story and eager to see how everything would work out for the fab characters. Everything that followed was simply comfort reading perfection…

The story follows Lily, a twenty five year old woman who in a short amount of time reads a letter from her mum and meets a very famous person hiding in her friend’s home – both changing the course of her life. Lily was a lovely character you couldn’t dislike. Other characters that made You and Me, Always so faultlessly entertaining included Patsy, a friend of Lily’s who’s relentlessly dating and hoping to meet the man she can settle down and start a family with; Coral, almost a second mum to Lily; and Dan, Lily’s very popular with the ladies, loveable best friend and Patsy’s brother. There are more but to name them would spoil the thrill of meeting them yourself. As always, I adored the characters Jill crafted, felt like I knew them so well as they developed throughout the book and genuinely felt bereft when the book was ending and they’d left me!

It’s a cliché often reserved for thrillers, not romantic comedies, to say you were so engrossed in a book you missed your stop on the train. Well as I settled down to continue reading You and Me, Always on the train home from University, I was well aware I was about to miss my stop, blissfully feigning ignorance as I was determined to spend more time with the characters of Lily, Patsy and Coral, who I’d cared about right from the very beginning and who were feeling more and more like friends with every turn of the page. It was just that kind of book – an unputdownable, uplifting read that left me with a big smile on your face.

You and Me, Always is feel-good fiction with the traditional Jill Mansell happy ending, but that’s not to say she didn’t put her characters through plenty before they reached that stage! The range of characters were so interesting and fun to read about – from the genuine, likeable ladies to the lovely men (I had my eye on Eddie…!) and the characters that get in the way of all the potential happiness. I loved how I was so easily hooked on the story that I felt every single emotion and with each twist in the tale I was feeling it just as much as the characters were. The sharp dialogue and dynamics between the characters you couldn’t not laugh and cry with, the way every aspect of the story unfolded not without twists and the occasional doubt things might not work out as you want, even though Jill Mansell making things end wonderfully is one of life’s necessities!

One of my favourite aspects to this book was simply the place it was set it, Stanton Langley. There was a real close-knit community feel to it which exuded warmth and cosiness that was irresistible and very addictive to read about. With Jill’s last book, Three Amazing Things About You, being so incredible and unforgettable, a tiny part of me felt like nothing would live up to the expectations I had but I was so wrong and You and Me, Always was a great book to follow up with – full of sparkle and sincerity and so much to love. It’s a very different read but purely beautiful, with the lovely combination of friendship and romance enhanced even more by the gorgeous male cast and as always, fantastic links between the starring characters. I’m already a bit impatient for Jill’s book number 28!

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