Book Review: The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

I loved the debut novel ‘The Songs of Us‘ by Emma Cooper that was published last year – so when the publisher emailed to ask if I’d like an advanced review copy of her second book I jumped at the chance!

 

The First Time I Saw You

Here’s the blurb:

“Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin. 
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.
Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey. 
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.
When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be. 
But fate has other ideas.
Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back. 
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways 
than they ever expected…”

I was slightly nervous before I started reading this that I wouldn’t love it as much as Emma Cooper’s first book – and that had a very distinct USP – and I wondered how she’d follow that – and if she’d have a ‘difficult second album’ issue going – but my fears were totally unfounded!

It starts off in Washington – somewhere the husband and I visited a couple of years ago – and whilst you don’t have to have been to enjoy the book, I loved imagining the places.  I also should confess that the fact Sophie is an accountant was very exciting – as that’s what I trained to do, and you don’t often get accountants as main characters.  I think I’ve mentioned before I’m still annoyed that the TV programmes This Life was based around lawyers rather than accountants – as we had a very similar life in the mid 90s!  Anyway – I digress…………

The book is told from Sophie and Samuel’s point of view week by week – so often you’re hearing the same story from the other person’s point of view – which is really clever.

The settings change – with Shropshire, Wales and Derry also featuring.  (Clearly I imagined Samuel’s family in Londonderry to be exactly like characters from the fabulous TV show ‘Derry Girls’) And one of my friends is going to be very excited that her home town of Machynlleth features!!  But the different geography provides excellent settings.

Rather than having one ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, there are multiple cases throughout the book where Sophie and Sam’s stars aren’t quite aligned – but I found that added to the pace of the book and really made me want to read on.

Whilst the book is based on the two main characters, their relationships with their families and friends are also explored.  I particularly liked the different relationships they had with their respective sisters.  Sam’s parents – Mr and Mrs McLaughlin – are lovely – and I think I might refer to the husband as Mr Price henceforth!

There are some big emotional themes running through the whole book – but without the unusual-ness of Melody’s singing from ‘The Songs of Us’ – and all are integral to the story.  I don’t want to include any spoilers by telling you what they are though……

The epilogue had me WEEPING last night – which seems to be the same effect all of Emma Cooper’s books have had on me – but that is definitely the sign of a good book.

All in all I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone and anyone!

A big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

 

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