Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publishing Date: 9th July 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine.
So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.
But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.
A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Philippa Taylor (or Pepper to her friends) experienced a certain amount of tragedy in her life and this is why it’s not easy for her to open up. She’s insecure and doesn’t dare to paint again. She lives in a small coastal town in Suffolk and has never travelled but when she befriends an older woman, Josephine, it’s all about to change. Pepper is not easy to persuade but then decides to accompany Josephine on her journey to Lisbon, to find her long lost love. It’s the beginning of changes in Pepper’s life, and bumping into the handsome Finn is only the promising start. Is she going to find what she’s been looking for almost her whole life? Will she move forwards?
The characters are interesting, however I missed more depth to them and I didn’t engage with them as much as I’d like. Pepper is a complex character though she was not completely my cup of tea, to be honest. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because she was so much reserved? Not believing in herself? Her glass was always half empty? Finn also didn’t convince me completely, there was something in him that made me feel untrusting towards him, and I personally thought that Pepper had deserved someone better, someone less selfish, someone who will take her as she is.
The relationship aspects, especially those concerning the closest family, were really well written, even if, after a while, I started to feel desperate with Pepper’s mother. But they were well explored and close to life.
This time the author takes us to Lisbon, Guernsey and Hamburg, and you can see that Isabelle Broom has done her research. The descriptions of those unusual places, as well as of the food and drinks were colourful and vivid, bringing them all to life. And I liked the end! It was not so obvious, so that’s brownie points from me!
The author follows her proven formula – she takes us on a journey abroad, to another lovely carefully selected setting, where we go on a rollercoaster journey of feelings and emotions, together with the characters. There is everything in the book, all the most important points, girl meets boy, both have a past, both try to overcome their fear, there are ups and downs, and of course an older character that is oh so wise, and we all know how it’s going to end – perfect, right? Only, it’s not perfect. It’s flat and old and I think that the author could do so much better, one shall not live by setting alone, I missed life and authenticity in this story, the characters felt too wooden and really, I had a feeling I’ve read this story thousand times already, only the names of the characters changed. But I guess it’s my problem, as so many of you have already enjoyed this book, so don’t feel put out by my thoughts.
Nevertheless, the quality of Isabelle Broom’s writing is truly to appreciate. It’s eloquent, chatty, warm and so incredibly vivid, especially when it comes to the setting. However, the story at the heart of this book feels too dull and monotonous. I skipped some pages, to be honest and had a feeling that it didn’t make any difference to the story, that I didn’t miss anything. There are too many things that shouldn’t have found their way to this book and it felt too repetitive.
“Hello, Again” is a light summer read about love, friendship, second chances and new beginnings. I only think that I want more texture and not another travel – guide. But overall, this book is a great addition for Isabelle Broom’s fans, probably I’ve simply outgrown such stories.