It was back in February when I last welcomed lovely Isabelle Broom to Linda’s Book Bag in an interview as part of the Romantic Novelists Association 60th birthday celebrations. You can read that interview here. Regular blog readers will know how much I love Isabelle Broom’s writing so when the e-book publication of her latest novel Hello, again was brought forward I set aside my self-imposed Netgalley ban and requested it. My enormous thanks to the team at Hodder for approving that request!
You can read my review of Isabelle’s book One Winter Morning here, my review of My Map of You here, A Year and a Day here and The Place We Met here. I still haven’t read my cherished personally signed copy of One Thousand Stars and You, but I intend to as soon as I can!
Hello, again will be published by Hodder in ebook on 4th June and paperback on 9th July 2020 and is available for pre-order here.
Philippa Taylor (Pepper to her friends) has big dreams. When she closes her eyes, she can picture exactly who she ought to be. The problem is, it’s about as far away from her real life in a small coastal town in Suffolk as she can imagine.
So when her elderly friend Josephine persuades Pepper to accompany her on a trip to Europe, she jumps at the chance to change her routine. And when Pepper bumps (literally) into the handsome Finn in Lisbon, it seems as though she might have finally found what she’s been looking for.
But Pepper know all too well things are rarely as they seem. Her own quiet life hides a dark secret from the past. And even though she and Finn may have been destined to find each other, Pepper suspects life may have other plans as to how the story should end.
A romantic and sweeping story about friendship, love and realising that sometimes it’s about the journey, not the destination.
My Review of Hello, Again
Pepper has never left the country and it’s about time she did.
I always have incredibly high expectations of Isabelle Broom’s writing and once again she didn’t disappoint. From the very first page I was completely enchanted by the romantic, descriptive and emotional writing so that Hello, again made me smile, weep and gladdened my heart. I thought it was wonderful.
As I expected, I was completely transported to the settings of the book through the painterly attention to detail, the weather, the colours, sights and textures that Isabelle Broom always manages to meld into evocative pictures in the reader’s mind. Aldburgh, Lisbon and Barcelona are very familiar to me and in Hello, again they are so vividly presented that I found myself transported out of lockdown and back to glorious streets, making me feel as if I had had a city break and had even visited Hamburg where I’ve never actually been. I found this element of Hello, again completely distracting so that all the cares of the real world vanished.
I thought the story in Hello, again was so romantic without being remotely saccharine. There’s a realism too that is incredibly satisfying because I believed completely in the outcomes. There’s palpable, vibrant life here that makes the reader feel as if they are part of the action. It might sound mad to say so, but I felt as if I somehow ‘belonged’ with Hello, again; as if I had found my place in the world.
I loved Pepper. I loved her dress sense (or lack of it) her self-deprecating personality, her creativity and her relationships, but above all I loved the way she developed as an individual through the narrative, teaching herself and the reader that although our past may help shape who we are today, it doesn’t have to constrain who we might become in the future. This was such a heartwarming theme that it makes me feel emotional just thinking about it after I’ve finished the read. Although this is a romance and Jorge and Finn help drive the action with Otto providing brilliant light relief, it is Isabelle Broom’s exploration of womanhood that touched me so completely. She understands the complexities of relationships that women have and the way in which they judge themselves and others. I was so ensnared by the women here that I wanted to hold each one at some point in the story to provide emotional support. I forgot that these were not real people because I cared about them so much.
The themes of Hello, again are thoughtful, sensitively handled and beautifully written so that the story tugged at my heart, rekindled memories and illustrated to me to the positive potential of my life. Apart from longing to try creating a mosaic of my own, I felt as if Isabelle Broom had looked deep inside my mind, had seen what I needed to read about, including love, friendship, relationships, self-belief, guilt, forgiveness and identity and that she had somehow written Hello, again just for me. It felt intensely intimate and personal.
I loved Hello, again. Reading it brought me joy and happiness. It’s just the kind of book the world needs right now and Isabelle Broom is the perfect author to write it. Just glorious.
About Isabelle Broom
Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before a 12-year stint at Heat magazine. Always happiest when she’s off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her escapist fiction novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her second home – the Greek island of Zakynthos.
Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her two dogs and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and tries her best not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.