You Had Me At Hello
What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling debut from Mhairi McFarlane.
‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’
Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.
They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.
Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.
When you read something is the next One Day, you’ll be in one of two camps – groan and moan and wail, “Not that again!”, or you’ll be like me, clambering to the book shop to grab your copy.
You Had Me At Hello is the debut novel of Scottish-born Mhairi McFarlane. It’s the story of Rachel and Ben, a pair of English students who meet as uni freshers, quickly become best friends and never leave each other’s side the whole way through their time in Manchester.
That is until something pretty major happens, tearing the best fictional friendship since Em and Dex apart for a whole decade.
But then they hit 31. Rachel, now a court report, has just called off her engagement to the man she’d been with since her pre-uni days and, with impeccable timing, the loveable Ben strolls back into her life. Long lost friends reunited! And of course brilliant Ben has a wife. The pair slip back into their old familiar friendship, despite its messy ending, but can it be that straightforward after ten years of no contact?
Of course not! And that’s what makes it so brilliant. While this undeniably a romance novel, there’s more to this book than old friendships, feelings left unspoken and all the other soppy nonsense we see so often these days – the clever subplots interweave brilliantly with Rachel’s battle with love lost, making this a really compelling read.
McFarlane’s characters are tremendous, from funny girl Rachel to the so-caring-he’s-almost-unbelievable Ben, plus the obligatory supporting cast of bonkers friends and workmates. Every one of them is believable, and you’ll probably see a little bit of yourself, or at the very least someone you know. Better still, it’s a Brit novel that takes place outside of London. This gets a bit two thumbs up from me as a non-Londoner.
The one teeny, tiny problem I had with this book was that you can see where it’s going. You know what’s happened before it’s revealed and you can kind of guess what might be coming next. Where McFarlane wins you back, however, is that you can’t quite figure out how it’s going to get there, so you end up sitting up until two in the morning, thumbing your way through to the finale and wishing you had a Ben of your own. Thank God I’m off work this week.
This is a wonderfully crafted story, with actual “ohmigod NO” moments, glorious writing, laugh-out-loud funny dialogue and fabulous character you won’t say goodbye to. Add it to your ‘to read’ list now.