Here’s Looking at You
By: Mhairi McFarlane
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Anna Alessi – history expert, possessor of a lot of hair and an occasionally filthy mouth – seeks nice man for intelligent conversation and Mills & Boon moments.
Despite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn’t be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren’t always this way, and her years spent as the ‘Italian Galleon’ of an East London comprehensive are ones she’d rather forget.
So when James Fraser – the architect of Anna’s final humiliation at school – walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she’s a fool to trust him?
Alas, here I am at the last Mhairi McFarlane book left on the list that I haven’t read. Actually, that’s not entirely true–she did release a novella a few weeks ago called After Hello following after the events of You Had Me At Hello (review)–but still, this was the only novel left on the list that I had yet to get around to.
Oh my goodness, this book. I devoured about 4/5ths of this book in one evening, I just had to find out what happened to Anna and James next. I was all high-fives about Anna as she was a historian who loved her job and was someone who was able to do the job she loves day in and day out. She’s smart, she’s witty, her friends are great and always a laugh (though I wish they had a bit more scenes together, Michelle seemed to relegate to the background at times), and once again the author does a wonderful job in portraying life being single and being in your early 30s (and this time the thoughts also veer towards the matter of online dating). Her family was lovely, though the first scene between her and her mother and sister was a bit worrisome (I thought it was going to be one of those “odd one out, let’s pick on the successful child who’s also alone” but there was a lot more to her sister Aggy than it seemed).
But the stuff that Anna faced and continued to face throughout the book was tough reading. The bullying was intense, it’s insane the crap that goes on in high school (I was one of those who were lucky to not have experienced it…And if I think about it, I don’t think there was bullying in my cohort). But how it continues to haunt her, how to informed her habits and the changes she underwent later on. She’s a survivor, definitely, but in a way she’s also super defensive about her past and about herself because of it. So I understand why she was so hesitant to interact with James; you’re rooting for them because they’re so cute together and they just click, but at the same time at the back of your head you remember what happened to her at school. It doesn’t excuse what James did back then, however much he had forgotten about it, but he is very much a changed person in the present storyline and I was rooting for him to see the light about the people around him.
There weren’t as many laughs I found compared to You Had Me At Hello or even It’s Not Me, It’s You (review) but omg did that feline beast Arthur stole the show. I was howling at the scenes involving that rascal 😛
Overall Here’s Looking at You was a good read. Definitely tough reading at times as it touched on the subject of adolescent bullying and its effects but it also definitey had Pride and Prejudice vibes and elements to it. I cannot recommend her books enough xD