Monday 19 December 2022

The Night We First Met by Clare Swatman #TheNightWeFirstMet @clareswatman @BoldwoodBooks #BookReview


One night in December, Marianne Cooper is running away from a party. Having found her boyfriend in a passionate clinch with someone else, she can’t get away fast enough.

That same night, twenty-two year old Ted Green is trying to make the hardest decision of his life. What he really needs is someone he can confide in.

When Marianne meets Ted, with the lights of London shining around them, the night becomes one they’ll never forget.  Because this night might just be the start of a love story to last them a lifetime. But as Ted watches Marianne leave in a black taxi, all he can think is he should have asked for her name and phone number.  

In a story spanning twenty years, join Ted and Marianne as they navigate life’s twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks, while all the time wondering – will fate ever bring them together again…

The Night We First Met by Clare Swatman was published on 8 June 2022 by Boldwood Books. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

I've read and reviewed most of Clare Swatman's previous novels here on Random Things. She's become one of my favourite writers. Her books are feel-good, romantic and always pack a punch. Whilst there's certainly the warmth factor in these stories, she does also deal with some important and challenging issues. 

The Night We First Met is another wonderful read. I was entranced from the first page of this story that takes the reader from November 1991, on a dark dismal London evening, up to the current day, following Marianne and Ted as they make their way through lives that throw many things at them. 

That November night was almost the last night of Ted's life. Just a young man, he really can't see any reason to be alive. With no family contact, he spends his nights sleeping on a friend's sofa, and his days trying to come to terms with the lasting effects of the war that he was part of in Kuwait. Waterloo Bridge feels like his final stop, and the dark waters of the Thames that runs below it, could be his final resting place. 

Marianne, dressed inappropriately for the weather, with a pair of fairy wings attached to her back is also running. She's fled a party after finding her boyfriend in a passionate embrace with one of her friends. Distraught, and realising that she's not only now single, she's also unemployed, as he was also her boss. 

Marianne's instincts take over when she spots Ted at the edge of the bridge, and climbing over to join him, she persuades him that this is not the right thing to do. And then she disappears. However, for the next twenty years, both Ted and Marianne will think about 'Bridge Man' and 'Fairy Girl' often. This night will really change their lives. 

Life over the next years is not easy for either of them. Both of them make decisions that are not in their best interest, both of them often hurt those closest to them, but both of them do manage to move on. Whilst they never actually meet again, their lives do cross often, they just never realise. 

One of the greatest aspects of this story is the emphasis on good friendships, and how loyal mates can really make a huge difference in life. Ted has Danny, and Marianne has Lance, two amazing characters who, despite everything, stay true and loyal to their best friends throughout. 

The author deals with some deep and challenging issues within her story, it's certainly not all light and shiny. Ted's battle with his mental health, and addiction are done so well, whilst the trauma of PTSD is sensitively described and handled. 

Theres's so much to discover within this story. It's beautifully written, packed with carefully created characters who are often flawed but also so realistic. 

Highly recommended by me.

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. 

She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. 

She lives in Hertfordshire. 

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