New Book – You Had me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

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Publishing year: 2012

This is a love story.

The narrator is Rachel, a journalist who covers trials in Manchester’s Crown Court. Rachel is engaged to her long-standing boyfriend Rhys, but at the beginning of the book, we see him discussing some aspects of their wedding, and somehow the discussion escalates into an argument, and suddenly, Rachel realises that their relationship is a farce and it is a long time since they have been a real couple, so that night they split up.

To help her, Rachel has the support of her friends, who she knows since university. There is Caroline, an accountant who is married, Mindy, of Indian origin and has a very fresh way to look at life, and Ivor, who is a nerd of computer games.

The key point is when Caroline comments having seen Ben in the central library. We learn that Ben was Rachel’s best friend at university, but they haven’t seen each other in ten years. Somehow they didn’t keep touch, and it is clear from the start that Rachel has always had a big crush on Ben, which she never acknowledged. Then she makes up an excuse to go to the library, Italian lessons she intends to start, and then she runs into Ben. She is disappointed that she is married to someone called Olivia. They have been married for two years. They have a coffee, and Ben gets her telephone number to pass it on to a colleague, a lawyer like him,  for some story.

In their second encounter she is introduced to Simon, the colleague, and he offers her to introduce the woman of a man involved in some criminal case, something huge. In that second meeting Rachel and Ben get to talk a bit more. We know that Ben used to live with her mother and her sister after their father left them. Her sister Abigail  has Asperger syndrome, and as they talk about the wedding and some run-in between his wife and Abi, we get the impression that Ben’s wife is not very easy-going. I imagine we’ll get to see Olivia, and I’m really intrigued what she is like.

The book is interspersed with flashbacks of Rachel and Ben at university. It is clear that Rachel has always been in love with Ben, but she never admitted it. She kept telling herself that Ben was not her type. Not even Caroline knows, and she was her room mate all through the years at university. I have the impression something must have happened for them to break all ties after they graduated. I think that Ben also has a crush on Rachel, but he must have kept his distance because Rachel was already with Rhys back then. Will this be their second chance? The problem is the wife, but will Rachel’s love be a turning point in Ben’s life?

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