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?
Here’s Looking at You tells the story of Anna, who was a victim of cruel and hurtful bullying during her school days. However she had managed to turn her life around since then, she has transformed the way she looks, has a job she adores and a close circle of friends. She’s still on the hunt for Mr Right (via Internet dating) but on the whole life is good…
This is until she comes face to face with James Fraser, one of her school tormentors at a reunion…only for him not to recognise Anna. Breathing a sigh of relief Anna puts the reunion behind her and looks to the future, however when she starts working on a new project at work she is horrified to find that she will be working closely with…the one and only James Fraser – the same James Fraser who was the subject of Anna’s teenage affections and daydreams all those years ago and the same James Fraser who set her up for total humiliation in front of everyone at school, leading her to believe that she was completely unlovable and that life wasn’t worth living. However, it might be alright…after all James doesn’t actually recognise Anna and she no longer goes by her full name Aureliana so he might never discover who she really is. But what’s more disconcerting is what Anna might just discover about James…
After enjoying You Had Me at Hello I was really eager to read Mhairi McFarlane’s second novel and Here’s Looking at You definitely did not disappoint!
I loved the plot of this story; it made for a fantastic read and I think it’s something that will grab the attention of a lot of people. Who hasn’t thought back to their school days and wondered how their classmates have turned out? And who wouldn’t be horrified to be reunited with the onetime object of their affections/ cruel tormentor only as fully fledged responsible adults, now living in the ‘real world’? It’s quite a sensitive subject matter and it definitely got me thinking about just how much our pasts can influence our behaviour in the present.
There is a fantastic selection of characters in this novel. I adored Anna, her story was heartbreaking and she is such a loveable lead character. I particularly enjoyed the relationship she had with her close friends who are funny and charismatic and her sister, Aggy is brilliantly written too. I was determined to dislike James but I’m afraid to say it never really happened…
Mhairi seems to have a real talent for making her characters believable and genuinely likeable (apart from those who aren’t necessarily supposed to be of course…Eva…Grrr.) The interaction and dialogue between Anna and her friends made me wish I was a part of their group, they are fantastically funny and supportive of each other.
Whilst it might not have been too difficult to guess what the outcome of this story would be, that doesn’t seem to matter because the interesting part is just how the characters got there and the obstacles and relationships they had to overcome in the meantime. You will laugh and cry along with Anna during her heart warming story. Here’s Looking at You is beautifully and sensitively written. It’s witty, romantic and heartbreaking. Mhairi McFarlane is definitely an author to look out for…with two fantastic novels so far and her next one due out in Winter 2014… I’m excited already!
*Here’s Looking at You was my own personal copy*
Mhairi McFarlane was born in Scotland in 1976 and got the fringe hairstyle locked down early so she could concentrate on wider issues affecting society, like why Cadbury’s don’t make plain chocolate buttons. Surely the demand is there. She has written one rom-com book and is trying to write another and not be distracted by DVD box-sets or Twitter, with varying success.
You can follow Mhairi on Twitter @MhairiMcF