Synopsis: The new novel from the bestselling author of You Had Me At Hello. What if the last person you wanted to see was the person you needed? After the runaway success of You Had Me At Hello, Mhairi McFarlane is back with a new cast of characters in her second book, Here’s Looking At You. In essence it’s an ugly duckling tale. Our heroine Aureliana returns to school after fifteen years for a reunion. School doesn’t hold happy memories for her, as being a roly poly Italian (known as the Italian Galleon), and always armed with a Tupperware full of pungent Mediterranean food, she was bullied incessantly throughout her years there. Now in her 30s, Aureliana wants to put the past behind her once and for all and face up to the bullies who made her life hell. But she is much-changed from the girl she once was – all curves and because I’m worth it hair – and no one recognises her when she arrives. Losing her bottle, she backs out on her plan for revenge and slinks off, hoping never to be reminded of her years at school again. But fate gets in the way, and after the reunion her path keeps crossing with James – major hunk and Aureliana’s major crush back at school. But alas, as a cronie to the bullies, Aureliana to this day believes that his beautiful exterior hides an ugly interior. As they continue to cross paths a love/hate relationship ensues until eventually something shifts, and they both start to discover what the person underneath is really like…Full of Mhairi’s trademark laugh out loud humour, Here’s Looking At You is a novel about facing your demons and being happy with who you really are.
Review: I already had the opportunity to discover a novel from the author, a book I had enjoyed elsewhere. So when I saw the release of this one, I was immediately intrigued. Also the theme was quite interesting and I was curious to see how the author had staged it.
Anna is a woman who had a difficult youth. She was a girl with an excess weight, ill at ease, something that already is quite difficult to manage at that age, but in addition to that, she was also the scapegoat of her school, insulted by all and hated as ever. It is very difficult to see what she had to endure with all these children. But that’s not all, because there is more. Indeed, for the school party, the boy she loved, the cutest of the school, asked her to sing with him on stage. Finally something worthwhile to make her forget the misery she had endured before. But no, after starting to sing, she is abandoned by her companion so everyone can send candies on her. What a difficult moment and this is also something that haunts her even now in her adult life. However, Anna has changed a lot since then! She has lost all the weight she had to become a truly beautiful woman. But this does not change her lack of confidence, that she still doesn’t feel beautiful, and that she can not find a man with whom she could build something. But now her past will resurface when she is forced to work with James, the boy from her school, the one she loved and who does not recognize her at all. However, Anna decides to keep the truth and to stay unpleasant whatever happens. Alas, her childhood sweetheart never left her heart and she’ll fall slowly under his spell, leaving him the opportunity to hurt her again.
Ah James, James, James, what a man you are! He is a charming character, or at least when he wants to be, and yet he does not really deal with his feelings. It must be said that he is determined to get his wife back even if she is cheating on him. He considers Anna as a friend, a sister and does not realize that his derogatory comments pain her. Besides many of his actions shock us completely! But we see that he seeks gradually to the young woman but unable to create anything with her. I found impressive that Anna was able to overcome her past to work with this man who destroyed her life. But eventually they’ll form a touching duo even if a secret still hangs over their heads. The two will face the consequences of their actions, their youth and it will not be simple. But in addition to this, we have a hilarious cat. The James’ animal is a case in himself and he is very good to manipulate others or to make them laugh. You will see that you will love this small cat as he is a walking disaster and yet his master loves him more than anything.
To conclude, I must say I had a great time again. It was a good novel that really touched me. I even shed a tear elsewhere in the story. I am curious to read more of the author.