Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Review: You, Me and the Movies

Title: You, Me and the Movies
Author: Fiona Collins
Publisher: 14th November 2019 by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers Corgi
Pages: 388 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary, romance
My Rating: 4 cups

He only speaks in movie references but they make her remember everything...
After a marriage which threatened her entire sense of self, Arden Hall is divorced, doing a lacklustre job and living a quiet, rather unexciting life. But one day, visiting a friend in a London hospital, she suddenly re-encounters her former lover from thirty years ago, charismatic Film Studies lecturer, Mac Bartley-Thomas, who is lying in a bed on the same ward.
Suffering from a brain injury and unable to converse, all Mac can utter is short references to the famous films he and Arden once watched together, back when she was a student and they conducted their affair: Casablanca, Bonnie and Clyde, Some Like It Hot and more...
These movies spark both bittersweet memories of their passionate relationship and the potential for a more reflective Arden to finally fulfil the promise of her younger self. And in the course of her visits to Mac, she starts to reconnect with the world in a way that she didn’t think was possible...
My Thoughts

‘Do you ever wonder what happens after the end of the movie?’ I say. ‘After all the decisions have been made, all the kissing has been done, the baddies have been banged up, the goodies have found the treasure? Do you wonder what comes next?’

You, Me and the Movies is a book that certainly grows on you with its bittersweet, nostalgic reflections about past regrets and future possibilities. This story alternates between present day middle aged Arden and her reminiscing about the great love affair of her life with Mac when she was a university student. It is interesting to see how the dual narratives progress with its impact on present day.

‘I know I am a survivor, that I have survived so much, but I don’t know how to move on from it. How to get the old me back. I want to be funny and optimistic. I want to be someone people are happy to spend time with. It seems I have forgotten how to be that person.’

The highlight for me is, of course, the movie referencing. With Mac only able to converse (present day) with short references to famous films, it provides Arden with the trigger to reflect on what was and what has evolved. The list of classic movies provide the catalyst to all that unfolds in the reminiscing. A self confessed movie buff, I relished the references, everything from classics such as Casablanca and Kramer versus Kramer, to modern day ones such as Pretty Woman. I reveled in their discussion and analysis of the films, both in isolation and in tandem with how events were unfolding in the story. They provided the perfect link between the past and present narratives, providing the spark  for often bittersweet reflections, yet simultaneously, a stimulus for fleshing out unfulfilled promises to younger selves. Will they provide the bridge to reconnect with the world when Arden thought there were no possibilities?

‘Showing up is not enough, I think. So much more is required. I want and need to apologize, to start over, to build a bridge I’m not sure I have the tools for. I simply don’t know where or how to start. ‘

This book slowly trundles along (a bit too dragged out in some passages) but I encourage you to persevere for the ending is heartfelt and enlightening. Don’t worry ... you don’t need to have watched all the films in question in order to enjoy the book (but it does deepen one’s appreciation). Also, this most certainly is not a light hearted romance. It is a well written story with an array of engaging characters with the themes of regret and redemption. 

‘Mac believed in the magic of the movies, the finite Hollywood ending. But I also knew what he was saying was true–there were some things that weren’t magical, or turned out the way you wanted.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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