Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.
Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren’t always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.
So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?
During the last days of 2013 I was in Manchester and while I was shopping I found a copy of Mhairi McFarlane's latest release, 'Here's Looking At You' in a supermarket. It was an absolute bargain, especially since I'd heard only positive things about Mhairi McFarlane's writing from other bloggers and on Twitter. I was quite curious to be introduced to this new author, so I decided it would be the perfect book to start 2014 with!
Anna Alessi is a thirty-something academic within the field of history who is happy with her life, except for the absence of romance and a man to share it all with. She goes on numerous dates, but the only men that seem to show up are slightly odd, to say the least. Anna's life used to be very different; at school she was horribly bullied and it's a time she doesn't like to be reminded of. However, when all of a sudden the boy whom she had a massive crush on and who was also the one to humiliate her in front of the entire school comes back into her life, Anna doesn't know what to do. James Fraser doesn't recognise her and seems to be a changed man, but can people really change? Somehow, Anna can't let herself trust James, but at the same time she continues to bump into him... Once a bully, always a bully? Or do people like James also deserve a second chance?
I've heard many positive things about Mhairi McFarlane's debut novel, 'You Had Me At Hello' from other readers, so I was looking forward to reading one of her works myself. It took me a bit of time to really get into the story, but as soon as I did I couldn't put the book down anymore. I fell in love with both Anna and James, from whose point of view the story is told (I always enjoy it when the author gives the reader the chance to look at everything from both a male and female perspective). I could personally relate to Anna and I just thought she was a fascinating and easily likeable main character, just like James, who I couldn't help but develop a small crush on. Next to the main characters, there also some other smaller roles like Anna's sister Aggy and her best friend Michelle, who definitely made the story even more enjoyable.
I really enjoyed the dialogue in the book; this is definitely one of Mhairi McFarlane's strengths, next to her sense of humour. The story made me laugh out loud multiple times and I think it's great how the author mixed humour with some more serious topics like bullying and believing in yourself. The plotline of the novel might perhaps sound a bit cliched at first, the author really managed to turn it into her own story which includes depth and is just really well done. 'Here's Looking At You' is a funny, sharp and engaging novel, and I personally look forward to Mhairi McFarlane's other work!
For more information about this book: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads