With February designated Romance Reading Month in celebration of #RNA60, the Romantic Novelist Association’s 60th birthday celebrations, what better time to review My One True North by Milly Johnson? The RNA has just awarded Milly their Outstanding Achievement Award which she’ll be receiving on 2nd March. You can read all about this much deserved award for Milly here.
I always enjoy Milly’s books and most recently reviewed her The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew here. Milly was kind enough to write a piece for Linda’s Book Bag when The Mother of All Christmases was released in a post available here and I have my review of another of Milly’s books, The Perfectly Imperfect Woman, here.
My enormous thanks to Sara-Jade at Simon and Schuster for allowing me read an early copy of My One True North.
My One True North will be released by Simon and Schuster on 5th March 2020 and is available for pre-order through the links here.
My One True North
Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.
Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.
From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.
Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.
But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.
My One True North is a story of friendship and what love means, of secrets uncovered, teashops on corners and the northern lights.
My Review of My One True North
Grief brings more change for Pete and Laurie than they might imagine.
Before I review My One True North properly, I have to say that I think this book is Milly Johnson at her absolute finest. I always enjoy her writing but My One True North seems to have that extra magical ingredient that makes it a joyous book to read in spite of the sadness that is the catalyst for the story. I absolutely loved it.
The plot is fabulous. The compass references leading North work so well, drawing the reader along with the narrative. It’s no plot spoiler to say there will be a happy ending – this is Milly Johnson writing – by my goodness, the twists and turns getting there are totally entertaining and wonderfully realistic. So many secrets swirl through the pages that it’s fascinating to see how the story will be resolved. At the moments when sadness seems almost overwhelming, the subplot elements from the newspaper where Laurie works bring glorious comic relief so that I laughed aloud even as I had tears in my eyes. Milly Johnson makes her readers experience the full gamut of emotion, from grief to joy, sadness to laughter, fear and frustration to comfort and satisfaction so that reading My One True North is an emotional roller-coaster.
I thought the characterisation was exemplary too. Through Pete especially we see how grief can knock us out of alignment, but all those present in My One True North are warm, vivid people who are all the more realistic for their flaws and life experiences. I thought the way Alex and Tara were presented was perfectly poised because although I couldn’t forgive them the hurt they created, I could understand them fully. Again, I experienced a full spectrum of emotion in my responses to all the characters because of the quality of the writing. I wanted Pete and Laurie to be happy and felt protective of them. I loathed Reid and Cora to the extent that I’d happily have done them physical damage. I wanted to attend Molly’s tea shop and have her as my friend. I found myself thinking about the people in My One True North when I wasn’t reading about them which I think illustrates how real they became to me.
However, it was the themes of My One True North that made this such a warm, humane and enveloping book. There’s a gritty realism that shows just how we are affected by loss and grief. It is as if Milly Johnson has glimpsed into the soul of humanity and is reassuring us that we can break down, we can rage and we can behave appallingly and yet, or rather because, we are still human and still deserve happiness. Friendship and love, passion and anger, grief and joy, betrayal and loyalty, all weave through the pages of this lovely book. The added extra of a little bit of mysticism alongside these more familiar themes makes for a really wonderful read.
I loved My One True North. It’s realistic, entertaining, emotional, funny and ultimately uplifting. What more could a reader ask?
About Milly Johnson
Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being a prolific author, she is also a copywriter for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer, and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.
She won the RoNA for Best Romantic Comedy Novel of 2014 and 2016 and the Yorkshire Society award for Arts and Culture 2015. Milly has recently been awarded the RNA Outstanding Achievement Award.
She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of the magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls, cats, meringues, handbags and literary gifts – but hates marzipan. She is very short.