Ready for an unforgettable journey in 2021? I might have just the thing….
Everything Changes by Helen McGinn
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Date Published: 9 February 2021
Print length: 547 pages (E-book)
SHOULD FIRST LOVE BE LEFT IN THE PAST, OR IS FIRST LOVE, FOREVER LOVE…
Sisters Annie and Jess are used to their mother Julia being spontaneous. But when Julia announces she’s flying off to Rome to meet her first love Patrick, whom she hasn’t seen for fifty years, it’s an adventure too far. So, her daughters decide the only way to keep Julia safe, is to go too – without actually telling their mother she has chaperones!
Julia and Patrick’s love story was everything – epic, once-in-a-lifetime, with a tragic ending and life-long consequences. First love is hard to forget, but sometimes, just sometimes, life delivers a chance to rewrite your story.
As the eternal city of Rome works its magic, old secrets, old friends and old loves become new possibilities and new dreams. And when the four travellers return home, nothing will ever be the same again…
It’s looking like the chances of going on holidays to far out destinations might be off the cards (for now) but This Changes Everything was the gorgeous bit of escapism I needed.
Instantly, we are met with a family who appear to have their lives figured out. Annie has James, her lovely (if a bit forgetful) husband, and her children. Her sister, Jess, has a successful career. It is their mother, Julia, who throws a spanner in the works. She’s happy, yes, but she soon announces that she is reuniting with her first love, Patrick, over a trip to Rome no less! I was amazed by how well McGinn crafted her characters, I was invested in them and their lives as early as the first page – which is pretty impressive for a debut novel, if you ask me!
Not only does McGinn write characters you find yourself rooting for from the offset, she is also wonderful at creating a sense of place. I’ve been to Rome before and McGinn definitely captures the beauty of it, from the cafes Annie and Jess eat their breakfast in to the wonderful, sprawling galleries that Patrick and Julia explore. I’ve never been to Cornwall, but McGinn writes in a way that enables you to truly visualise every detail.
I loved how the magic and possibilities of Rome in the present was contrasted with the less magical scenes from Julia and Patrick’s past. Much like Annie and Jess, I was pretty sceptical about the characters reunion but – as you delve deeper into their past and the characters themselves – you uncover a love story that is beautiful and heartbreaking in equal measure. I loved reading about the characters’ past, and I really liked Julia’s Aunt Tessa, it definitely helped me believe in their love story a lot more as the narrative rolled on.
Though I sensed there would always be a twist of some kind (the title kind of indicates that, I’d say), McGinn still managed to surprise me. I loved how she split the book into parts, with the first part showing the adventures in Rome and the second showing the aftermath. What was simply a trip away led to exciting developments for the characters and their lives, which was a delight to read.
The only thing I wasn’t too keen on was how fast paced the second part was. The first part ebbed and flowed quite slowly, as you took in the surroundings and characters, and allowed you to take in every detail. I think the second part of the book felt a bit rushed and I kind of wish we delved more into the characters thoughts and feelings instead of just hurtling towards the – thankfully – happy conclusion.
Regardless, This Changes Everything is a stunning debut novel about family, the future and the past, and finding your feet.
A Few “Thank Yous”
I wouldn’t have been able to read this book (or participate in this Blog Tour) without a few people. Firstly I want to thank Rachel, of Rachel’s Random Resources, for organising this blog tour (and letting me be part of it).
I also want to thank the publishers (Boldwood Books) and the writer Helen McGinn for allowing me to read an E-arc of this book via NetGalley. I fell in love with this debut novel and I hope others will, too.
About the Author
Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her award-winning blog (and now best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club.She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning. Helen lives in the New Forest
This Changes Everything is available to buy on Amazon .
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