Book Review: What Might Have Been by Holly Miller

I adored Holly Miller’s first novel, ‘The Sight Of You’ – so when I read she had a new book coming out in 2022, I jumped at the chance of an ARC.

Here’s the blurb:

“Lucy’s life is at a crossroads. She’s just walked out of her unrewarding job and has no idea about her next step: use her savings to pursue her dream of becoming a writer, or move to London to try and revive her career? It almost seems like fate that on that same night she meets Caleb, a stranger in a bar, and runs into Max, the one-time love of her life.
Should Lucy stay in the seaside town she grew up in, and in doing so, get to know Caleb better? Or should she go to London and reconnect with Max again after he broke her heart a decade ago? It’s just one decision – but sometimes one decision can change the course of your whole life . . .
WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN is a sweeping and unforgettable novel for anyone who has ever believed in destiny and soulmates – or paused to wonder what your life might look like if you’d made a different choice.”

The book starts with Lucy having quit her job. That night she’s in the local pub and meets a handsome stranger, Caleb, and whilst talking to him spots her ex, the ‘one that got away’ a decade earlier, outside and runs out to see him. Then follows two scenarios – in a ‘sliding doors’ esque style – one where she goes to London to a fancy new job and the prospect of hooking back up with Max, and the other where she stays in her seaside hometown of Shorely to try her hand at writing a novel and getting to know Caleb better.

So far so romantic comedy style book. But it is so much more than that.

As with ‘The Sight of You’ Holly Miller’s writing is exquisite and, despite the modern setting, feels like ‘proper’ literature again.

The storylines run concurrently – shifting between ‘Stay’ and ‘Go’ each chapter. I really enjoyed both storylines – and couldn’t pick a favourite. Neither are plain sailing – but both have a fabulous story arc. There are some very clever crossovers where either the same event happens in both storylines – or very different things happen depending on character’s decisions. It was done flawlessly and shows how clever the author – and editor – have been it making it seamless. (I appreciate I am a geek for admiring such things – but it’s a badge I’m very prepared to wear!)

It also wasn’t predictable at all – and Max and Caleb made very different, but both lovely, leading men.

I also LOVED the final chapter – it left you wondering about soulmates and fate and destiny and what ifs – perfect!

This is not a ‘difficult second album’ book – it’s fabulous again. Holly Miller is definitely going to be a ‘go to’ author for me in the future.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ARC – and the book’s out in March 2022, so not too long to wait.

Book Review: The Sight Of You by Holly Miller

The Sight Of You

I’m not sure why I ended up with an ARC off NetGalley of this book – but I’m so very glad I did – it is brilliant!

Here’s the blurb:

“Joel is afraid of the future.
Since he was a child he’s been haunted by dreams about the people he loves. Visions of what’s going to happen – the good and the bad. And the only way to prevent them is to never let anyone close to him again.

Callie can’t let go of the past.
Since her best friend died, Callie’s been lost. She knows she needs to be more spontaneous and live a bigger life. She just doesn’t know how to find a way back to the person who used to have those dreams.

Joel and Callie both need a reason to start living for today.
And though they’re not looking for each other, from the moment they meet it feels like the start of something life-changing.

Until Joel has a vision of how it’s going to end . . .”

Firstly – this book is BEAUTIFULLY written.  It’s like a classic written now – you can imagine kids studying the amazing descriptions and sentence construction and the way it draws you right in – particularly when describing the seasons / weather / nature – it is stunning.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised – but often modern books feel a bit rushed, or on a production line because the author / publisher has a deadline – but it really feels like this book has been crafted and lots of care and attention to detail taken over the turn of phrase.

It is also ridiculously emotional!  You are invested in Callie and Joel from the off and really want everything to work out for them – but it’s difficult to see how it will.  Each chapter is written from an alternating point of view – and it swings like a pendulum between Callie and Joel.

Initially the pace is quite slow, day by day even, and you see how their initial friendship and then relationship starts.  You are really rooting for both Callie and Joel and their respective baggage.  The exquisite writing doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a modern book, set in current times, with familiar themes and settings.

As the book carries on the pace picks up – and the final chapters are almost annual – but it serves to build the momentum as it heads towards the conclusion. The inevitable conclusion perhaps?

It made be weep (which frankly anything does at the moment – but I think I would have even if we weren’t in the middle of a global pandemic!)  It is beautiful, heart breaking, life affirming, a story of friends and family and a perfect love story.

This book is going to be one of THE books of the summer of 2020 – so I would suggest pre ordering now, so you can be one of the cool kids who reads it first!

Huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC – I will most definitely be buying this as gifts for friends come June 2020.