You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac - book review
Jess Pendleton has a shocking secret'¦ but she's determined not to let that spoil a holiday in France with her young son.
However, some secrets are so important, so painful and so life-changing that they can’t be kept under wraps.
Catherine Isaac is perhaps better known to readers under her pseudonym Jane Costello, the much-loved author of funny, bestselling romantic romps like Bridesmaids, The Nearly-Weds and Summer Nights at the Moonlight Hotel.
In an intriguing new direction, the writer who trained as a journalist and was editor of the Liverpool Daily Post for five years until she married and became the mother of three sons, turns her talents to a new kind of novel… and this moving, bittersweet story will have readers laughing, smiling and crying in equal measure.
You Me Everything – already optioned by Lionsgate, a leading film and TV production company – is a deeply sensitive and utterly enchanting novel. It’s sassy, smart and knowing, but also tender, emotional and thought-provoking; it will break your heart and then put it back together again when you least expect it.
Jess and her ten-year-old son William are spending the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. Jess’s ex-boyfriend – and William’s predominantly absent father – Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in the restored castle.
Lush gardens, a gorgeous pool, delectable French food, and a seemingly never-ending wine list would normally be like holiday heaven but Jess has other more urgent reasons for being there.
Jess’s beloved mother Susan is dying of from a neurodegenerative disease at the age of just 53 and is determined that William should form a ‘real’ relationship with his dad. Adam pays his maintenance and remembers Williams’s birthdays but his son ‘is no more than a small piece in the jigsaw of Adam’s colourful life.’
So how can she make Adam fall in love with his own son when he has other ideas, another girlfriend and doesn’t seem inclined to change the habits of a lifetime just because Jess and William have appeared on the scene?
Jess isn’t surprised that Adam doesn’t look to be engaging fully with his son... this is the man who said he never wanted to be a dad and really meant it. He missed William’s birth because he was out getting drunk with another woman and Jess dumped him only a few months later.
But William, who has quickly come to idolise his father, is enjoying his extended holiday at the luxury hotel and wants nothing more than to spend time with him. And Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody, especially William, must discover.
This beautiful, multi-layered story – as uplifting as it is powerfully affecting – is a gorgeous summer sparkler, framed by a dark shadow that sets it apart from routine beach reads, but which is never allowed to block out the light of hope and the warmth of the sun.
Isaac is a superb storyteller… her poignant French odyssey immerses us totally and addictively into the lives of Jess, William and Adam, and won’t let us draw breath until the final chapter of their extraordinary story has unfolded.
Written with heart, elegance, humour and insight, You Me Everything is everything you could want in a contemporary novel, and probably the most rewarding book you could pack in your suitcase this summer.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)