It was back in January when I first encountered All About Us by Tom Ellen at a fabulous blogger, author and media evening in London. You can read about that evening and the other books and authors in Harper Collins’ HQ New Voices event here. Since then I’ve been desperate to read All About Us and I’m delighted to share my review today.
All About Us is published by HQ, an imprint of Harper Collins, and is available for purchase in ebook now and paperback pre-order here.
All About Us
If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?
Ben usually loves the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?
He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.
Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?
Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…
My Review of All About Us
On Christmas Eve Ben and Daphne are not getting on well.
I absolutely devoured All About Us over a couple of days because it’s such an enchanting read. Although very much romantic fiction, it has a fairy tale aspect with the watch seller that is so perfectly woven through the narrative that I believed every word. There are those who might eschew reading All About Us before December as much of the action takes place on various Christmas days or dates nearby, but that would be to miss out on a simply wonderful book.
The plot absolutely zips along in a highly entertaining fashion that would make a fantastic film, but also tripping up the reader by surprising them by the level of humour and emotion in some of the sections. I found tears in my eyes on several occasions, and yet I have finished reading All About Us feeling optimistic and uplifted because Tom Ellen has shown me there is a world of glorious possibility if only we grasp it firmly. Indeed, it is the themes of All About Us that make it such a brilliant and affecting story. Ben’s time hopping actions make the reader realise that there may not be a second chance with some of those in our lives so we need to make the most of here and now, that being true to ourselves is far better than trying to make ourselves into someone that others want us to be and that love – deep abiding love – is the most precious commodity we have. I feel my personal life has been enhanced by reading All About Us.
It was so refreshing to have a romantic novel written from a male perspective too. Ben is totally realistic as a flawed thirty something man who has some considerable growing up to do. For all his imperfections, I so wanted him to be happy because Tom Ellen made him a character I cared about completely. I loved his relationships with other men in the book, Harv in particular, and the way Tom Ellen illustrates how those relationships usually work. I found this a very insightful aspect of the narrative. The different time periods that Ben lives through had the effect of making me relive and reflect on some of my past memories too, giving me an added joyfulness as I read. I loved Daphne’s characterisation too and thought she was so cleverly conveyed through direct speech particularly. I began reading All About Us wanting one outcome for Ben, Alice and Daphne and ended it having have my expectations and readerly desires completely inverted by the super story-telling.
With a sparkling plot and every emotion possible from confusion to fear and love to grief holding the reader spellbound, All About Us is a gorgeous, gorgeous book. I adored it and can see it becoming one of THE romantic fiction reads of 2020. Fabulous stuff Tom Ellen!
About Tom Ellen
Tom is an author and journalist from London, England. He is the co-writer of three critically acclaimed Young Adult novels: LOBSTERS (which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural YA Book Prize), NEVER EVERS and FRESHERS. His solo adult debut novel is the romantic comedy All About Us (HQ/HarperCollins). His books have been widely translated and are published in 20 countries. He is a regular contributor to Viz magazine, and has also written for Cosmopolitan, Empire, Evening Standard Magazine, The Daily Mash, Glamour, NME, ESPN, ShortList, Time Out London, Vice, Stylist and many more.
You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomEllen7.