Friday 14 October 2022

It Was Always You by Emma Cooper #ItWasAlwaysYou @ItsEmmacooper @headlinepg @lararosetamara #BookReview


On the last night in October 1999 the clocks went back, and Ella and Will's love began.

A teenage Ella sat around a bonfire drinking with her future husband and her oldest friend Cole.

As Ella wandered away from the group, she found herself leaning against a derelict archway before passing out.

The next day, Ella remembered fractured images of a conversation with a woman in a green coat and red scarf but dismissed it as a drunken dream.

Twenty-three years later, with her marriage to Will in trouble, and Cole spiralling out of control, Ella opens a gift which turns her life upside down: a green coat and red scarf.

When she looks in the mirror, the woman from the archway is reflected back at her.

As the last Sunday in October arrives, Ella is faced with a choice.

Would she choose a different life, if she could do it again?

It Was Always You by Emma Cooper was published in paperback on 1 September 2022 by Headline. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Emma Cooper has become one of my 'go-to' authors. I have read and loved every one of her novels, she writes characters who are believable, often flawed, always realistic and an absolute pleasure to discover. 

I was lucky enough to read this one whilst on holiday in Cyprus, allowing me the luxury of reading as much as I wanted, when I wanted. This was a very good thing, because once started, this one is so difficult to set aside. 

The story opens with a prologue set in 1999, the day that the clocks go back in October. It's the beginning of Ella and Will's romantic relationship, and a night that Ella will never forget, as she's been haunted ever since by the woman she saw that evening. A woman dressed in a green coat and a red scarf who tried to tell Ella something.

Move forward twenty-three years and Ella and Will are married with two children. There have always been three people in their relationship. Ella's best friend Cole has been a constant part of their lives. Closer to Ella and more cautious when around Will, Cole is a troubled character whose presence recently has caused issues for the couple. 

This is a captivating and beautifully structured story of romantic relationship and also of the power of friendship. Ella is a complex character who has never quite felt herself good enough for Will. She has a sense of self loathing at times that blurs her ability to enjoy life and what it has given her. When Will makes an announcement on this October morning, Ella feels that it is only what she deserves, and has been expecting it for years. However, she is still heartbroken, confused and utterly bereft at the thought of life without Will, and will do her utmost to save their relationship. 

Will is a good looking man, a talented musician and had a great future ahead of him. Despite things not going to plan when younger, he's content with life and his family. What on earth has made him take this life-changing decision, at this point in their lives?

Looking back to that October night all of those years ago, Ella realises that she may have the opportunity to change the course of her life. Will she though? Can she make things different and should she?

Emma Cooper has not shied away from dealing with significant and often emotionally challenging issues within this novel. Cole's struggles with his mental health and alcohol are so well documented, and dealt with so sensitively. 

A story of romance, with a hint of magic and a cast of characters that will capture the heart of the reader. I loved it, it's her best yet, in my view. Highly recommended. 

EMMA COOPER is the author of highly acclaimed book club fiction novels and is known for mixing humour with darker emotional themes.

Her debut, The Songs of Us, was snapped up in multiple pre-empts and auctions and was short-listed for the RNA contemporary novel of the year award. Her work has since been translated into seven different languages.

Emma has always wanted to be a writer - ever since childhood, she’s been inventing characters (her favourite being her imaginary friend ‘Boot’) and is thrilled that she now gets to use this imagination to bring to life all of her creations.

She is now also an editor for Jericho Writers, where she has worked with traditionally published authors, as well as new aspiring writers.

Emma spends her spare time writing novels, drinking wine and watching box-sets with her partner of twenty-eight years, who still makes her smile every day.

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