Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Published: 8th November 2012 by Avon
Source: Kindle edition from Amazon UK
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.[Goodreads]
I LOVED this book. Simple. Mhairi McFarlane has such a witty, fresh and clever way with words, I didn't want this book to end. In fact, I felt quite bereft once the book was over, and felt as though I'd lost something - it's very rare that happens!
Firstly, a massive thank-you to the author for setting it in Manchester!! I love the city and I'm always thankful that I only live 20 minutes outside it. I love all the details the author adds that are very familiar to me but any other reader would also understand. I've also got so bored of the typical rom-com settings of London, New York, Devon etc, which feel so overdone now. The Manchester setting was genius! There's also no (thank God) storyline about how a character made a boo-boo at work and had to escape to the coast, and luckily for her she found the man of her dreams behind the bar of the local pub, and they start off hating each other but secretly love each other (blah blah blah). Before reading You Had Me At Hello I'd been through quite a lot of chick-lit and felt I was always getting the same story over and over again, just a re-hashed version. This book was just miles apart.
Rachel and Ben were the perfect characters. Nothing clichéd. Rachel has no annoying quirks that we're meant to find "adorable", she doesn't constantly do the thing you're screaming at her not to do, she doesn't lose things or fall flat on her face when she first meets Ben. It's completely, wonderfully real. I was totally invested in them both the whole way through the book and I felt like I could relate to them both even though I've never really been in their situation. To put it simply - they just felt alive.
I really enjoyed the parts of the book set in university too - whenever I read about uni it always seems to be American, and although I really enjoy that, I can't always relate. I love escaping into books set in America because it doesn't feel like my world - but You Had Me At Hello just made me feel warm, comfortable and at home. There was our murky Northern weather, Oxford Road, A-Levels and British pubs! I knew the places, so I think for me, it felt like I knew the people and their stories more too.
I also loved the supporting characters, especially Rachel's friends - ah Mindy! - and laughed so many times at so many different parts of the book. The author's descriptions are often hilarious, or just seem to pin down exactly how you remember/imagine them. The whole story is just very sweet and satisfying; a perfect boys meets girl with a bit of a twist. I would definitely recommend this to pretty much anyone, especially if you want to experience a lovely slice of Northern England! A must-read!