I think like everyone the world over I occasionally have those ‘what if?’ moments and that’s exactly what Fiona Harper has tapped into in The Other Us. Maggie is a forty-something woman whose only daughter is preparing to fly the nest so when Maggie and her best friend Becca have been invited to university reunion, her first thought is will Jude be there? Jude invited Maggie to run away with him the night she accepted Dan’s proposal and at the back of her mind, with Dan being secretive, she wonders if she should have done so.
When Maggie is hurtled back through time to 1992 when she was twenty-one, she wakes up in her student digs which she shared with Becca. Back to the time before she decided which man to plump for. Maggie now has the chance to make different choices, and of course the question is will they make her happier?
This fun read doesn’t just focus on Maggie and her love life though, I’m happy to report that it also focusses on bigger life choices such as the careers that Maggie and Dan choose along with a meaningful look at the nature of friendship. How does it work if you don’t like your friend’s partner? And of course it’s harder to like them if you know how they are going to act in the future. Yes, Maggie is conscious that she is in the past, unlike many ‘time-travelling’ novels, so her actions are taken with that knowledge in mind, and the big question is what does Maggie in her forties really want her life to look like? What is important? Only when she is able to answer those questions can she really make the choice she needs to.
My first thought when Maggie wakes up in 1992 was the more benign truth is that youth is wasted on the young. Imagine waking up and shaving a good twenty years off your age – those wrinkles and grey hairs banished to reveal a younger and perkier you – I think I’d embrace that too!! Maggie does, choosing a wardrobe she would have shunned as the old Maggie and revelling in her youthful appearance.
This is a well-constructed novel; it needs to be with three different time lines to follow all involving the same set of characters, the potential for getting confused is high. I’m happy to say I didn’t once wonder where we were I the story though as the author has given us enough pointers – including Jude using Meg as his name for Maggie to keep the storylines straight.
This is perfect beach reading, it’s light and fluffy but with enough oomph to keep you turning those pages to find out what choices Maggie makes and what adjustments she makes to turn her life around in all three story-lines. All of this is helped by the fact that Maggie is someone you’d like to have as a friend and so I was rooting for her even when she seemed incapable of seeing what was really important to her and so meandered way off track. There are plenty of funny scenes to keep you chuckling and this uplifting book may just well convince you that perhaps hurtling back through time isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
I’d like to say a huge thank you to MidasPR who sent me a copy of this book on behalf of the publishers HQ. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author Fiona Harper for brightening up my day with a humorous look at life.
Fiona’s first book was published in 2006 and she now has twenty-four published books under her belt. She started her career writing heartfelt but humorous romances for Mills & Boon, but now writes romantic comedies and feel-good women’s fiction for Harper Collins, as part of their HQ imprint.
She is a previous winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award, has had five books shortlisted for an RNA Award and won the ‘Best Short Romance’ at the Festival of Romance three years’ running.
Fiona lives in London with her husband and two teenage daughters,