Then. Now. Always by Isabella Broom
Publishing Date: 20th April 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 416
Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adults)
Hannah can’t believe it when she’s offered a trip to sunny Spain with her best friend and dreamy boss . . . what’s the catch?
Twenty-eight year old Hannah is ready for an adventure. She and her colleagues are in Spain for a month to film a documentary, and it’s a dream come true. Not least because Hannah will get to spend long summer days with Theo, her boss (and crush). If only Tom (Hannah’s best friend and cameramen) and Claudette (the presenter) would stop getting in the way…
Then things become even more complicated when Nancy, Hannah’s half-sister arrives. What on earth is she doing here?
For once in her life, can’t Hannah just have one perfect summer, free of any drama?
Oh my, mea culpa, it took me over two months to sit down and write this review. I think I know why it took me so long – “Then. Now. Always” by Isabelle Broom is getting raving reviews, and really guys, I started reading this book with so many expectations but quickly found myself almost in desperation wondering if I am reading the same book as other people, singing prizes. Don’t get me wrong – I adore Isabelle Broom, and her debut novel was absolutely brilliant, but I just couldn’t get this newest release, and it made me so sad, as I had so much hope and wanted to love this story so much. But – Isabelle Broom is the ultimate person to turn to when you need to get into holiday mode – she sets her books in the most gorgeous settings and she brings them easily and effortlessly to life. “Then. Now. Always” is set in Spain, in a beautiful, gorgeous town, full of sunshine, adventures and secret places.
So guys, between you and me, there was one thing that almost made the book totally kaput for me. And it was the main character – it is really hard to love a book when the main hero is driving you crazy. Hannah was at the beginning, and through almost the whole story, a pathetic, feeling sorry for herself person who didn’t know what she really want. She was unhappy with everything and everybody surrounding her. I admit, it was a risky move from the author to make her character fall in love with her boss but I am sure it was a very conscious move. We know about this crush immediately, so I tried to be patient with Hannah but there came a moment when I couldn’t stand wondering what Theo would say or if he’s thinking about her at the same moment she’s thinking about him, anymore. I liked how this played out however, it was not too cheesy, too fairy – tailish.
Then I couldn’t grasp how come people stick with Hannah for so long, with her being so needy and whinge-y and stubborn. She didn’t want to hear what other people have to say, and the way she was around Tom… well, she just him took for granted, the same as so many other things in her life. The bickering with her half – sister Nancy was annoying and her saying one thing and then doing the other as well. Hannah wanted to spend one summer without any dramas but let’s be honest, wasn’t she the one who has created all the problems? I just couldn’t get past the fact that the characters were supposed to be adults but behaved like children.
What saved the book for me was the ending. It was not obvious and it was not predictable and I really liked how it turned out. It was different to all the endings. I actually think that if it weren’t the weak characters, the book would be perfect. But OK, let’s stop with moaning and focus on the good things. It was a great story offering a huge piece of escapism. The events in this book were likeable and there were tricky situations aplenty to make this plot as twisty as the Spanish roads. The author so flawlessly handles the complex story that it was a real pleasure to read. I also appreciate the fact that Isabelle Broom tried to make out of a supposedly lightweight novel a much more emotional and complicated story. Right at the beginning we have this being in love with your own boss situation, which I could feel in my bones is going to end in tears, then she adds a bit of half – sibling rivalry, and while Hannah’s sister Nancy was very one – dimensional and predictable, and Hannah’s reactions were, in my opinion, much too exaggerated, and the two girls behaved like spoiled, immature teenagers, showing their shallow sides behaving in a really awkward way, this element added some depth and was well captured.
Altogether, this book gives you what you can expect: gorgeous setting of Mojocar, twists and turns, adventures and unconventional romance. It is quick – paced and there is enough of drama to keep you on your tenterhooks. There is this added bonus of Mojocar’s history and traditions, myths and legends that I enjoyed very much. A story about building bridges and forgiving and I am really sorry it didn’t work for me – I really, truly wanted it to work! However, I am already looking towards Isabelle’s next book, I’m sure it’s going to be (another) cracker!