23 April 2016

Book Review: You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell

"On the morning of Lily's twenty-fifth birthday, it's time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum's life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie's attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily's friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book now.

As usual, a new Jill Mansell book is one of the highlights of my reading year, especially as it usually comes at the start of a new year, meaning it always puts me in a good reading mood! I was super excited to be sent a proof copy of Jill's latest book You and Me, Always, complete with the stunning cover. I love that the cover designs for Jill's books all have the same style, and the blue used on this particular jacket is stunning. I eagerly got stuck in, and devoured the book in just a couple of evenings before bedtime, and of course it was utterly brilliant!

The story is based around a woman called Lily, who lost her mother at a young age, but who has been raised by several people who have come to be her own family anyway, and although Lily desperately misses her mother, she knows she has had a good life anyway. There's her best childhood friend Dan, someone she knows she can always rely on, the woman who raised her, Coral, and her other friend Patsy. When a movie star rolls into town, Lily is a bit starstruck and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship. But when someone from Lily's past makes a shocking appearance, she just knows that things have changed, but is it for the better?

What I loved about this story is that there was a really small cast, but each of the characters is an important as the other, and I loved reading about each of the sub-plots as much as I did the main story. One of the most touching parts of the story for me was the developing relationship between Coral and her male friend, as Coral is reluctant to move on after her husband's passing. This was so beautifully written, and was so touching to read, I thoroughly enjoyed this, and how encouraging Lily was for her friend to find some independence in her life, and go after what would make her happy after so many years of thinking about everyone else.

As well as Lily's personal life, the book also delves into Lily looking into her past to try and find out more about her mother and her father, who she didn't grow up with. On her birthday, Lily opens the last letter that her mother wrote for her before she died, and this spurs Lily on to try and locate her father, who she doesn't even know is aware of her existence. As this story progresses, I thought it was a joy to read, with Lily trying to find answers to questions she has had for many years, and her friends coming to terms with all of the changes in Lily's life, as well as trying to be honest about their own secrets too. There were quite a few twists and turns along the way, and I was completely absorbed by the novel.

Of course, the story was brilliant, but it is Jill Mansell's writing that makes me keep coming back to her books year on year, just knowing that I am going to be reading another wonderful story that I won't want to put down is such a treat. I love how Jill brings her stories and characters to life so easily, creating a fictional world for them to live in, but one that I can picture so clearly in my mind as I'm reading due to the wonderful picturesque descriptions she uses as she describes the villages in which her books are set. I loved all of the characters in this book, it certainly had me captivated from beginning to end, and I know it's one I will be keeping and re-reading time and time again. Simply a must read.

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