My Map of You
by Isabelle Broom
Publisher: Penguin / Michael Joseph
Publishing Date: 21st April 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother’s death, she’s become expert at keeping people at a distance – including her boyfriend, Rupert.
But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.
But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?
„My Map of You” is Isabelle Broom’s debut novel and I can only say that it was a helluva of a debut! First novel, and SO good, I am really, really impressed. You know, sometimes there are books that are light and easy and with a nice topic but the writing style is wooden, stiff and doesn’t let you to enjoy a book. However, „My Map of You” was written in a fantastic, easy to follow way, full of warmth and I had a feeling that the book is reading itself – I immediately felt at home with the story, had no problems to connect with the characters and – let’s come back to the writing style – I was in love with it. It had made this novel exceptional and it looks like Isabelle Broom was made to be an author – I am really waiting to see what more she has in store for us.
Lately novels set in Greece are popping up like mushrooms but I’m probably lucky, as they are all so original and all the time refreshing, and each of the authors have their own favourite places. And so „My Map of You” is mostly set on Zakynthos, and I absolutely, totally loved the descriptions of it! You know, sometimes the books set in different parts of the world sound more like tourist guidebooks, with all the technical descriptions and must – see places, when the authors concentrate mostly on showing us how well they researched these places for us. But it’s not the case with „My Map of You” – yes, there are many descriptions of the island, of different places, beaches, bars and pubs but they all sound so effortless and are just a part of this story. I truly didn’t have any problems to imagine all these places, to feel the light gentle wind on my arms and the warm sun shining at my face, and hear and feel the clear blue waters. The descriptions are so evocative and Isabelle Broom brings all the things she writes about to life – it is really an amazing feeling, I’ve felt as if I’ve been visiting the places together with Holly, even though I’ve never been to Greece (YET!), and I really think that those descriptions, and the cosy, lovely writing style were the biggest highlights of the book and made it so unique.
The story is not only about Holly spending holidays of her life in Greece – it touches upon many issues, mostly concerning Holly and her life, her choices, her past, as she tries to solve some kind of mystery about her mum and aunt. We, readers, have a chance to see that something happened in the past between the sisters much quicker than Holly, as almost every chapter ends with a letter written by Holly’s mum to her sister Sandra, and it quickly becomes clear that there was a misunderstanding that resulted in these two going separate ways. Holly also takes us on a journey on self – discovery, of growing up and deciding what’s important for her and what she wants from her life.
I adored Holly. She was not perfect, she had her flaws, and she realised this. She had moments that she didn’t know what to do with her life, she was not sure about her boyfriend and all the dilemmas only made her much more believable as a character in my eyes. She didn’t have easy life, it was not a plain sailing through life for her, she doesn’t show people her true side, only the one she thinks they want to see, there are moments she’s selfish, that she hurts other people, that she jumps to the wrong conclusions but she was so honest, and genuine in all the things, and I had a feeling she is just a real, living and breathing person. Holly was a truly complex character.
All the other characters are just brilliant, and even though they are secondary ones they have larger than life personalities, they are believable and warm. And Aidan… Oh well, Aidan. Sigh. I wanted to roar like a tiger when he entered the scenes, really. He and Rupert couldn’t be more different and I think I don’t have to say which one I’d prefer as a boyfriend, and it is of course only a matter of time for Holly to start question her relationships. I’d also start to question my relationship if I lived next to Aidan. He was, in fact, everything that Rupert wasn’t – relaxed, living and breathing Greece, and I’m not saying that Rupert, with his wealth and sense of reliability, was bad, I’m only saying that only one of them can win Holly’s heart Though I couldn’t fully trust Rupert, no idea why, there was something in him that made me feel like this, and it only confirmed my conviction when Holly travelled alone to Greece and the way he talked with her on the phone and behaved was so controlling!
This was not your usual rom – com, when a girl meets a boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after. It is much more complicated but it doesn’t mean that the book is hard to read or on the heavy side. The author makes Holly to arrive at some important and not straightforward decision, she must decide where she belongs, to whom she belongs. I truly loved the way the romance aspect in this book was handled, it wasn’t rushed, it wasn’t obvious, and the chemistry, questions and tension worked so well here. It was really one of the most beautifully and warm written novels that I’ve read lately. When reading it I only wanted to be able to jump into the pages of this story. It was convincing, original and honest. It was not only a novel to take for your holidays, it is a perfect read for all kinds of weather – it’ll make you feel better when it’s rainy and grey outside, and it’ll make you feel better when the sun is shining. The atmosphere of the holidays, but also of the more serious moments, is really brilliantly captured. It mixes a bit of romance, a bit of serious issues, some brilliant characters and a fantastic red setter, and I really enjoyed it, from the beginning to the end. Please, read this book, you’ll feel immediately better!