- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 814 KB
- Print Length: 315 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (7 March 2019)
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07JVJBTYD
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 619 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Don’t You Forget About Me Kindle Edition
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‘Funny and heartfelt, full of humour and wisdom, I absolutely loved it’ Katie Fforde
‘Intelligent, edgy and laugh out loud funny – a romantic comedy to love’ Sunday Mirror
‘The perfect mix of comedy, whip smart dialogue and all the feels’ Fabulous
‘Mhairi gets the mix of laughs, romance and serious emotional depth just right in this page-turner that stands out from the crowd’ S Magazine
‘Hilarious, clever and beautifully written’ Daily Mail
‘Fiery, feminist, fit, filthy and very timely … astonishingly good’ Harriet Reuter Hapgood
‘A warm belly full of joy from start to finish!’ Holly Bourne
‘Mhairi’s best yet: nobody does modern love like her, hilarious, devastating and real’ Laura Kemp
Praise for Mhairi McFarlane:
‘An effortlessly brilliant read – will have you laughing when you shouldn’t and sobbing when you least expect it’ Giovanna Fletcher
‘Totally hilarious and wincingly real’ Jenny Colgan
‘Her best yet – write faster!’ Holly Bourne
‘No-one writes such wry, emotionally complex romantic fiction’ RED
‘The perfect balance of romcom and drama… the ultimate holiday read!’ GRAZIA
‘Warm, nuanced, compelling’ STYLIST
‘Intelligent and insightful’ HEAT
‘Sparky, smart, sore-stomach-laughing kind of read’ FABULOUS
Hilarious, heartwarming and romantic – the funniest Romantic Comedy of 2019 from the Author of If I Never Met You
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Georgina is thirty years old and is fired from her job as a waitress then goes to see her boyfriend of six months only to find him in bed with another woman. This isn't a particularly unique trope in the romance/women's fiction area. But the rest of the story has plenty to recommend it. Through a family connection she gets a one-off gig helping to tend bar at a wake and is offered a job by the end of the night. The offer comes from one of two brothers who have bought and renovated the pub. She's met the one brother but the other arrives much later and turns out to be her first love from high school. But he behaves as though he is meeting her for the first time.
This is no shallow story and it delves into some deep-rooted issues in several areas of her life and it ends up with quite a few touching scenes by the end.
I wouldn't say it's a solid five stars but it's pretty close. I don't give such high ratings often but this surely deserves a strong one.
Another Mhairi McFarlane novel is always cause for celebration, and ‘Don't You Forget About Me’ is no exception. It’s about a young woman called Georgina who has just turned 30, but finds she increasingly can’t ignore all the ways her life keeps sputtering to a stop … it’s probably tied to her Dad’s tragic death when she was a teenager, the high-school sweetheart that got away, and the night that clouded all of her romantic relationships ever after.
But when said high-school sweetheart returns to town, and Georgina finds herself inadvertently working at the pub he and his brother own – she’s both excited and terrified to have him back in her life. Except for the fact that Lucas claims he can’t remember Georgina at all – suddenly Georgina feels robbed of their memories and what he meant to her, but at the same time … maybe this can be a clean-slate for the both of them? Maybe this is a blessing in disguise?
‘Don't You Forget About Me’ has the feel of Jojo Moyes’s ‘Me Before You’ – but only for the fact that both Georgina and Lou Clark are having to confront a traumatic event from their teenage days, that is maybe part of the reason they’ve land-locked themselves to their hometowns. It’s one of the darker backstories McFarlane’s explored in recent books, and I thought she did is exceptionally well. Maybe a little too well for the heart-in-throat, cold-sweat breakout that I shared with Georgina as she confronts this moment from her past. But McFarlane should also be commended for the many types of abuse she highlights; from micro-aggressions to emotional manipulation, financial abuse, weaponized public embarrassment, and outright physical abuse. Everything within is something women will be intimately and tragically familiar with as the tools of abusers – that McFarlane highlights them with the upmost gravitas in this contemporary romance is powerful and satisfying, while also very unsettling.
I also read ‘Don't You Forget About Me’ and felt oddly reminded of ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney, the adult literary juggernaut novel of last year. It’s mostly in the fact that both novels begin back in time by exploring the first romantic relationship of two teenagers, who decide to keep their dalliance a secret from their friends, family and classmates … in both instances; Rooney and McFarlane write the “young adult” portion so beautifully that I actually found myself hoping to stay in that time-period for longer (maybe even the whole book?). They differ of course though, with the leap-ahead; Rooney’s novel becomes about these two people trying to always (and sometimes awkwardly) retrofit themselves around each other’s new adult lives. McFarlane tears the teenagers apart, and the story is of their reunion as adults – when only our protagonist is claiming to remember who and what they were to each other.
This is the crux of McFarlane’s book and the story; as she asks how long we can go on ignoring the big, impacting moments of our lives; the ones that built us up, and tore us down. How long can we go on kidding ourselves, and others – merely by refusing to confront the past?
She delivers so many decisively satisfying sucker-punches in this book; all of which are tied to Georgina slowly building herself back up bit by bit. I will say that I thought we’d get a few more chapters/moments of Georgina and Lucas though (a backstory to Lucas’s dog Keith is given, and tied to a potential other antagonist from his life – but then nothing becomes of it and I got the distinct impression that maybe a whole extra chapter and scenario was oddly axed or forgotten to be added?). It leaves an odd feeling of not having *quite* consumed the whole – like a piece was missing?
But that’s a small complain of an otherwise thoroughly lovely book, from a favourite author. A book that had me weeping in some parts, and laughing hysterically in others – such is life.
Top international reviews
From the word go it evokes memories of Sixth Form, puts you back there in the common room, back there in English Lit (I now really do want to read Wuthering Heights, nobody else has made me want to, this achievement should be added to Mhairi's author page tbh, it's honestly quite the attainment if you ask me). Mhairi has such a talent for putting the reader in the room, it honestly feels like you're sat just out of shot, whether that's in the pub or in a kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. She makes you feel like you could reach out and touch the characters.
I love Georgina, her self doubt, her need to fit in and the work it entails, and lots of other things that I can't write about as a) spoilers and b) too personal naval gazing for an Amazon review but suffice to say, I relate to her most out of any of the lead characters of Mhairi's novels (whilst knowing I could never live up to her brilliance and beauty - the irony of this is not lost) plus she speaks so much truth, so much wisdom. Oh, and I really wish I didn't have to develop a massive crush on the lead men every time but alas I do, and Lucas is no exception.
And again the friends and housemates and workmates and parents all feel like they could have a novel written about them too, so real and interesting they all are.
Honestly, how Mhairi does this every time I wish I knew. She's so bloody brilliant.
And I'll never be able to look at caramelised pecans the same way again.
The story begins in Sheffield, 2007 with our girl Georgina in sixth form, and rapidly approaching the end of her schooldays. A surprise seat reshuffle during an English class, pairs her with the quiet and somewhat mysterious Lucas, a relative newcomer after recently moving schools from Dublin, and not someone Georgina has previously paid much attention to. All that changes as they get to know each other better against a backdrop of Wuthering Heights discussions, love notes and make out sessions in the local Botanical Gardens. The sixth form prom is meant to be the night they take their secret relationship to the next level, but a mixture of lies, miscommunications and hurt pride instead meant it was the night they parted forever. Or so we thought...
Forward to the present day, and Georgina is in a going-nowhere-fast job at an abomination of an Italian restaurant, has a flakey, self obsessed boyfriend, a patronising, disappointed family and a housemate from hell. Just when she thinks things can’t possibly get any worse, she’s unfairly sacked from the worst restaurant in town and then promptly finds her fella in bed with his PA! When you’re that low, the only way has to be up, and it appears Georgina’s luck could possibly be changing when she gets an unexpected job offer in a beautifully refurbished bar in town, working for the delightful new owner Delvin, who is everything you could want in the perfect boss. That is of course, until she meets his brother and partner in the business, in the familiar shape of tall, dark and handsome Lucas....
Oh this book was a joy! The perfect mixture of laughs, heartbreak and slow burn romance. As always with Mhairi’s female leads, I loved Georgina’s character from the off. I recognised the smart, likeable girl who desperately wanted to get the approval of the ‘cool kids’ in her class, and in doing so, suppressed her own potential in a bid to fit in and be accepted -
“You play down your intelligence to enhance your standing with your peers. There’s a big wide world outside these walls, Georgina Horspool, and exam grades will get you further than their laughter. Pretty faces grow old too, you know.”
Sixth form Lucas too, was adorable from his first introduction. His “I love your laugh. X” note made me pull a silly grin as I thought back to how thrilled I would have been at that age to get that note from a boy I was falling for. I read the whole of the prologue wanting to shout at the screen “Don’t hide him away Georgina!! He’s a good ‘un! Be proud to be with him!” But of course, we all know that some things - not making yourself a target, fitting in with everyone else, doing nothing that could possibly be mocked or ridiculed by classmates - seem so vitally important whilst still a pupil, that you’ll do whatever is necessary, however misguided, to avoid the sniggering and mickey taking. I’m sure we’ve all known a version of Richard Hardy. The supposed cool kid, with an underlying nastiness to many of his ‘witty’ quips. His approval would have felt so necessary if for no other reason than to avoid being the butt of his joke. For the self doubters of the world, acceptance by the ‘in crowd’ is sometimes the validation you feel you need to get by at school. And for all her intellect and natural wit, Georgina certainly falls into that category of not quite believing herself good enough.
When we pick up again with 30 year old Georgina, that self doubt is still bubbling under her surface. ‘Why am I still doing this rubbish job? Am I too old to be still pull off this look? Am I too boring in my relationship? All these negative questions are not helped, her close friends aside, by the people around her, who could hardly be accused of being uplifting or supportive! This little gem of wisdom from Tony, the terrible chef at That’s Amore!, was a typically cutting example -
“Be careful with that heavy make-up as a blonde. One minute you’re punk like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, the next you’re Julie Goodyear.”
That said, so much of the That’s Amore! description was hilarious! I could totally picture this hellhole of a restaurant with its disgusting kitchen and equally grubby chef! I cringed along with Georgina at the simpering lengths she had to go to in order to try to balance keeping both kitchen and customer happy -
“It turns out my role is less a waitress, more an apologist for gastronomic terrorism. I’m a mule, shuttling the criminal goods from kitchen to table and acting innocent when questioned.”
“They told me that a free lunch was a perk of my meagre wage, and I soon discovered that’s an up-side like getting a ride on an inflatable slide if your plane crashes”
I swear I could totally picture the congealed muck on the plates she was forced to serve up! As always with a McFarlane book, even the smallest character is perfectly drawn. Tony, fag hanging out of his mouth and wispy mullet sticking out of his chef’s hat, is such a clear image for me, I’m sure I could pick him out of a police line up. It’s always one of the joys in reading this authors work, the total realism of all her characters.
I found the family dynamic particularly rang true. The dysfunctional family unit she grew up in, with unhappy parents constantly fighting and drawing Georgina and her sister into taking sides, I’m sure feels familiar to many of us who grew up with parents at war with each other -
“It was mine and my sister’s responsibility to act as buffer zones and brake pads, and simply to be someone living in their house that they liked”
I found her description of Saturdays out with her Dad and the relationship they had, particularly touching and at times, quite heartbreaking. Now I seem to be painting this book as quite sad and downbeat, but trust me, it’s totally not! However, I think all the best comedy has light and shade, it gives way more depth and becomes a far superior book because of it. But at its heart, this book is a brilliant rom com, and there is plenty of comedy and romance to keep every McFarlane fan happy.
I LOVED Georgina’s friends! What a fab bunch they all were. I was particularly fond of her loveable young workmate Kitty. Her naive innocence made me smile on so many occasions. Her sheer horror at the suggestion she may like to keep a diary in the future was priceless! -
“Oh my God, no one does that, what am I, some sort of Victorian person!’ Kitty says. ‘Yeah, like, I wrote my diary in my big death nightie and, like, ate mutton pie and that. Wrote it with one of those pens that are feathers.’
‘What the hell is a big death nightie?!’ I say, putting aside the fact Kitty called me ancient.
‘Those nighties that ghosts wear and they put old people in. You know. Like in a Muppet’s Christmas Carol.’
‘Hahahhaa. The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. RIP Charles Dickens.’ Devlin says.
‘I know who Charles Dickens is!’
‘Do you? My bad,’ Devlin says.
‘He’s the bear, he tells the story.’
Devlin and I look at each other and hoot and Kitty says, ‘Oh piss off!”
Special mentions must also go to the fabulous Nana Hogg, the gorgeously warm Dev, kind and lovely Mark, narcissist Robin and, although I loathed him, the perfectly drawn, odious little toad Geoffrey. His put downs and sly digs made me furious on Georgina’s behalf, but it’s the mark of brilliant writing that his words can cause such a reaction in the reader -
“Oh for goodness’ sake, your indispensability to some grotty boozer! Yes, I am sure they’ll be scouring Yorkshire trying to find another person with opposable thumbs, capable of placing a glass on a counter top and counting coins. It’ll be like that hunt for a pop star programme. Soda Pop Idol hahaha.”
But back to Lucas *sigh* The older Lucas we met in the book, came across as a darker, moodier version to the affectionate teen we were originally introduced to, but of course, that was for several very good reasons. I found the romance in this book a slightly slower burn than in the authors previous work, but no less glorious because of that. I’d like to assure fans of You Had Me At Hello and It’s Not Me It’s You, that the ‘I wondered if’ speech in this book is right up there with Ben’s declaration in chapter 69 and Adam’s love letter respectively
There were heartbreaking parts to this story as well as the heartwarming. When discussions were finally had about the disastrous prom night, I could have cried I was so sad for all the hurt and pain that was caused, but I’m glad that Georgina finally had clarity about what happened and just who should have carried the blame for that night. As with most situations, talking and being honest is the only way answers can be found, and closure can be achieved.
You may think when reading the books blurb that Don’t You Forget About Me is just a classic second chance romance, but actually for me, it’s much more than that. It’s really a tale about learning to be kinder to yourself. Of not putting yourself down, and not allowing others to do that to you either. It’s a reminder that secrets and lies can fester and eat away at you if you let them and that being honest with yourself and others can prevent so much hurt and confusion. So maybe this new year, we should all try to give ourselves a break. To acknowledge that we are good enough and we are all trying to do our best, and really, that should be good enough, for ourselves and for all those people who claim to care about us.
In Don’t You Forget About Me, Mhairi McFarlane has written another cracker of a story. It’s warm and witty, heartbreaking and uplifting and I loved every word of it. I just have one final request for Ms McFarlane - please, please, PLEASE, don’t leave it so long for the next book!!!
Wouldn't rush to read her other books unless I found one free on KU.
The book tackles some very important issues but does it in a way that feels honest and empowering.
I cannot find a single fault and only hope Mhiari carries on her excellent work for many books to come.
I'm a huge fan of Mhairi McFarlane and its been a long wait for this book. The first chapter, set 12 years in the past, had me instantly hooked. Georgina and Lucas are placed next to each other in English Literature class, deliberating over Wuthering Heights together whilst falling in love. The chapter ends on a cliffhanger, that does not bode well for them.
After such a promising start, I have to say I found the first third of the book thereafter a bit of a slog to get through. There was, for me at least, a lot of forced comedy that didn't really elicit any laughs, such as Georgina's exploits at the restaurant she is fired from. Furthermore, there is a lot of focus on the fallout with her cheating boyfriend, Robin, a stand up comedian and all round extremely irritating character. I can understand his relevance in the book overall, and he does impact on the plot and Georgina's character progression, however, even considering this there was far too much of Robin in the story for me, and I certainly didn't find the parts relating to him as funny as I think the author intended for them to be.
The book picked up for me after this, though I have to say it still didn't have me riveted as McFarlane's books usually do. I think one of my main gripes was that there wasn't enough of Lucas in the story, and certainly not enough interaction between him and Georgina. Given the book relied on a degree of miscommunication and misunderstanding between them, I can see why it may have been difficult to have them interact too much, but at the same time it took something away from the book for me, and I didn't think Lucas' character was as well developed as it could have been. Again, its tricky as we're not afforded his point of view, and given that he's quite often in the background or brooding, its hard to know what he's really thinking. Certainly we get more of an insight into his character in the final third of the book, and the story picks up pace here, with some genuinely moving scenes, and I loved some of Lucas and Georgina's scenes together towards the end of the book, hence why I just wish we could have got more of them together.
I appreciated the author's play on Wuthering Heights, and thought this was quite cleverly done. I also thought there were some difficult themes that were well explored, such as grief and the complexities of family dynamics. The role of peer pressure and conforming to society's expectations is also well explored, and through the course of the book we see Georgina go on a journey, where she faces up to bad things that have happened to her in the past, and finally exorcises some demons. One of the messages of the book is that first and foremost you have to treat yourself well, something that Georgina has not been doing for a while. I thought that McFarlane handled these darker aspects of the story well, and as such this book was more than just a romance.
There are a lot of supporting characters in the book, including the usual trio of friends (for me personally, the personalities and dynamics here are starting to get repetitive from McFarlane's previous books), Georgina's family (I did like the dynamics here with her sister and mother) and Lucas' brother Dev, who is generally quite fun.
Overall, I still enjoyed this book, most especially the latter parts, however, I don't think it quite fulfilled its true potential or lived up to my expectations, which admittedly are quite high for this author.