by Lindsay Kelk
Publication: August 4, 2020
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
After a few years producing radio shows in Washington, Rosalind (Ros) Reynolds returns to England to try to reestablish herself, but things are not as they once were. Her parents have rekindled their love. One best friend is having a baby. Another has a successful career, and the other is falling in love for the first time. Ros needs to move forward but it’s difficult because she keeps dwelling on the past. Then, she accidentally reconnects with her ex, the one who broke her heart before she moved out of the country. Maybe, just maybe, things can go back to the way they were? But, “ ‘you know what they say when you wear rose-tinted glasses, all the red flags are just flags.’ ”
Throughout the book Ros is preoccupied with how things were before she left to the States. When she returns, she wonders why she’s not meeting her friends at the old bar they used to frequent when they were all living together. The shed she now occupies in her parents’ yard is full of relics from her old bedroom. She throws a party for her best friend, but it’s also an attempt to capture the past. The past is everywhere she looks and she actively tries to engage with it, but she doesn’t internalize that just as the people and her surroundings have changed, she has changed as well. This is very much the reason why the relationship she pursues is at once the same and different but she just doesn’t recognize how different it is until later.
I like the message the book is trying to convey: “you should never go back, that your old life was the past and the past was over.” My variation on this message would be that in order to move forward, we need to understand the past but it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to continue living in it. Ros tries to capture the magic of the past, because she is convinced the past was much better. The problem with believing in the magic of the past is that we sometimes forget the times we were miserable; it wasn’t all unicorns and cotton candy. There were many storms that had to be weathered. There’s a quote that I love that is attributed to Kaci Diane. “I love the woman I’ve become because I fought so hard to become her.” It’s a slight variation Diane’s the original quote but I think we have to remember this when we recall the past.
I have to admit that I’m like Ros in many ways. While my glasses are not exactly rose-tinted, I cannot help but be wistful about how things used to be, often looking back on the past and wishing some things were still the same. The problem is that it can’t be the same; things change. Often times, things change for a reason, we just forget why and remember the outcomes. Things are complicated because our memories and our feelings are complicated. Ros eventually comes to learn this.
I liked the theme and the messages but the book was a bit too slow for me. I was halfway through and I wasn’t exactly sure what the author was trying to get at or what was really going on with Ros. She wasn’t just closed off to her friends upon her return but she even felt closed off to me at times. Additionally, I kept trying to figure out when it would pick up the pace and it never really does until about nearly three-quarters of the way. There were moments I was immersed in what was going on but these moments were rare. The conversations she had with her friends and the disco were probably my favorites. The last quarter of the book was also the most entertaining. By the time the book finally picked up the pace and I made an effort to connect the dots, I was wondering if I could actually make it to the end –I did but it was a little difficult.
Overall, the book was just okay with 2.5 stars. I really wanted to like this book because the message resonated with me but it was difficult trying to maintain interest due to pacing. While I might not necessarily have enjoyed it as much as I wish I could have, I still think others might find it entertaining–there are some scenes that made me laugh loudly. Because I liked the message, I might be willing to reread to see if it might read better the second time around…but maybe not any time too soon.