Wednesday 8 August 2018

You Me Everything // book review

I think the setting of a book can, sometimes, really make it – I felt that way about Two Steps Forward, and I was so excited when You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac came through my door (along with a little bottle of rose wine, thanks Simon & Schuster!) to see that it’s largely set in the Dordogne, in the south of France. The first time I ever went camping in France we stayed in the Dordogne, and it was genuinely one of the best holidays ever. I met so many people and did so many things, and the Dordogne is truly beautiful.

you me everything catherine isaac book review

You Me Everything follows the story of Jess and her son William as they set off to spend a summer in the Dordogne with William’s dad Adam, who is historically a bit of a dick but now owns a châteaux in southern France that he has renovated into a hotel. I know my mum will love this book purely for this reason, because her and my dad are obsessed with a Channel 4 program where people buy run down French castles and do them up, which is fairly exciting. Anyway, Jess and William head off to France, although she’s in two minds about it because of the aforementioned dick-ish nature of Adam, and also because of the degenerative condition her mum is living with that is becoming increasingly debilitating. Some of Jess’ friends come to stay in France, too, bringing booze and babies and helping Jess hold on to her sanity as she navigates her son’s fragile relationship with his mostly-absent father. There are day trips and football games and clumsy kisses with other holiday makers, barbecues and arguments and extreme weather, and mostly a lot of fun.

But alongside the family holiday fun, which Catherine Isaac does a wonderful job of portraying, there is a deeper/darker element to the story: the illness that is slowly attacking Jess’ mum’s body will one day take over her own, although William and Adam don’t know this, so Jess is worried about telling them (which she thinks she should, or Adam at least, so that he can step up and be the father William will need) and she is also worried about how her own dad, an ex-alcoholic, is coping back at home. Again, these emotions are impeccably written into the story – the aching worry, the confusion and the internal struggles are so real, and so well juxtaposed against the stunning French backdrop and the happy memories Jess and her son are making.

Ultimately, this is a book about how love is stronger than fear and how important it is to have good people around you – it’s a gorgeous story that’s beautifully written, with a happy ending that made me cry on the train. It’s out now and I’d definitely recommend if you’re looking for something that’s not too heavy but still has a solid story line, lush descriptions and funny, heart warming moments.

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