Review: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

PAPERBACK; 436 P.
AVON, 2012
SOURCE: BORROWED

From Goodreads:

What happens when the one that got away comes back?

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart.

It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

From the moment they met they’d been a gang of two; partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on. Ben is married. Rachel is definitely not. In fact, the men in her life make her want to take holy orders…

Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

This book was recommended to me by a friend and as I have not read chick lit for a long time, I didn’t go to this book with great expectations. Based on the back cover, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. I’m not big on the thirty-something getting back to dating, whoops-I-think-I’m-a-bit-rusty-in-this-game (yes, I’m looking at you Bridget Jones). Mostly because I find it a bit too overdone. You Had Me At Hello starts with Rachel returning home after a long week at work. The reader finds out that, actually, she’s engaged to this guy who she has been dating for 13 years. And a chapter later, they’ve broken up, and Rachel’s looking for a new start. Talk about starting with a bang.

The narrative of the book is divided between present Rachel, 31-year-old  court journalist, and past Rachel, in her university years, reciting her friendship with Ben. The main story focuses on Rachel and her relationship with Ben, whom she meets after 10 years of silence. One of the mysteries in the book is the unspeakable event that lead the two best friends to shun each others company for an entire decade. Besides Ben and Rachel, the book naturally features a bunch of side characters, some more entertaining than the others.

The main character, Rachel, deals with making her own decisions and the separation as well as issues with friends, family and work. In this sense the book is very similar to other chick lit novels. All of this is done with a tongue-in-cheek attitude as the puns and jokes can be found in almost every chapter. It made reading an entertaining experience although at times the constant joking felt a bit forced. I’m also not sure if I liked the ending. In a way it was what I had hoped, but somehow it seemed like it didn’t connect with the book as a whole – like the author had had a change of heart at the last moment. All in all, You Had Me At Hello was an entertaining book but left room for improvement.

3/5

I like the city late at night, the blasts of music and the splashes of light cast from bars that are still open, shoals of brightly-dressed clubber, the beeping taxis and the greasy, savoury smell of meat and onions from the burger vans.

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