“One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy.
Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.
Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.
But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.
The dazzling new novel from Richard & Judy book club author Catherine Isaac, Messy, Wonderful Us is a story about the transforming power of love, as one woman journeys to uncover the past and reshape her future.”
I saw this on Netgalley and it sounded interesting, so when the publisher emailed to ask if I wanted to read it, I said ‘yes please!’
Whilst I’ve not read anything by Catherine Isaac before – I had read and enjoyed books in her previous life as Jane Costello (not sure why she’s changed her writing name – I may have to Google it and find out!)
Early on in the book Allie discovers a family secret – which threatens her whole existence – and the book is basically the fall out from this, and her uncovering the truth.
It twists and turns – and the chunk in Italy is just beautiful. I’ve never been to Lake Garda (although have been to nearby Lake Como) but it really evokes the feeling of being there.
I liked Allie – and Ed – and their relationship is really interesting. The age old ‘can men and women really be platonic friends’ is looked at from a new angle. Their relationships with others were also explored in depth.
Some big juicy topics are covered throughout the book – which are really thought provoking and written about very well.
My only slight niggle with the whole book was the sections about Allie’s work in medical research. I am sure they were really well sourced and completely factually correct (in fact the acknowledgements at the end would back that up) but I felt they were too detailed and broke up the flow of the book. I am a total geek and love learning new and scientific stuff – but probably not in the context of a novel.
But I am sure I’m being over picky – and it didn’t ruin the book as a whole, which was a really good read. I romped through it at pace as I was so keen to see how it all played out.
It’s out next month, and I would definitely recommend it.