Book Review: Not Without You by Harriet Evans

Not Without You by Harriet Evans
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: 7th November 2013 (Paperback)
Buy: Paperback Kindle
Rating:
5 star

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 Sophie Leigh’s real name is Sophie Sykes. But she hasn’t been called that for years, not since the surprise hit of a budget movie. Now she’s LA movie star Sophie Leigh, she can forget all about her old life near Swindon. But in the process of leaving it all behind, she’s lost something of herself, too.

Eve Noel didn’t choose her new name. A Hollywood man did. In fact, he makes all the decisions about her. What to wear, when to smile, who to love. A product of the 1950s, Eve has none of Sophie’s modern self-confidence, but she knows she must follow her heart. One day, she simply vanishes: no-one knows where she went, or why…

As Sophie’s perfect-on-the-outside world begins to crumble, it seems her life might be linked to Eve’s. As past and present collide, Sophie must unravel the mystery around Eve’s disappearance to save them both – but is she already too late?

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Harriet Evans is an author I’m quite familiar with, having enjoyed a few of her previous novels I was intrigued by the sound of this book. The plotline didn’t really sound like any of her other stories, but I was really interested to see how the story follows both Eve’s life in the 1950’s and Sophie’s in the present day – and most importantly, how would the two come together?
We learn about both Eve and Sophie when they are at the height of their fame and film careers. They might have fame and fortune, but underneath it’s a very different story. Eve is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and pining for the man she really loves. She’s also haunted by events from her past but as she grows older she discovers that everything is not how it once seemed. Then one day she mysteriously disappears and is not heard from again…

Meanwhile Sophie is at the top of her game. Best known for starring in a string of successful Rom-Coms, she has people to cater for her every whim – but does she actually have any friends?
Fed up with the press’s obsession with her weight, boyfriend and personal hygiene, the final straw comes for Sophie when she’s shown the script for her next movie, ‘Love me, Love my Pooch’. Deciding she wants to try something different she comes across a script for a film which she imagines could be great and couldn’t be more different from her previous films. Sophie has an obsession with the 1950’s actress Eve Noel and is desperate to find out what happened to her. She decides that she would be perfect to star with her in this latest film and sets about tracking her down, although as it turns out Sophie’s about to experience a few dramas in her off-screen life…

This book was nothing how I expected it to be, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. A lot!
This isn’t your usual Chick-Lit read, in fact it’s much, much darker. It’s got a gripping storyline, bringing together two completely different characters from different worlds. Both Sophie and Eve are fantastic characters and brilliant heroines who you feel as though you bond with throughout the story. Despite the heavy goings-on within the story, Sophie brings a touch of humour to proceedings with some of her one-liners. (I particularly liked her stating she felt as though she was ‘in a Taylor Swift song’!)

Eve is a fantastic character too. I loved her chapters set in 1950’s Hollywood, the descriptions, the people, the glamour. I really did feel for Eve though, after everything that she’d experienced in her younger days and desperately wanted a happy ending for her. However, alongside Eve and Sophie are many other brilliant characters. Another reason as to why I enjoyed this book so much was all of the other people that we meet along the way, some good, some not so good.

Be warned – once you start this book you will not be able to put it down. It constantly keeps you guessing and I didn’t find it at all predictable. There’s so much to this story; mystery, humour, plenty of twists and surprises and of course a little bit of romance too!
You know you’re reading a good book when you really look forward to settling down and getting stuck into it (and are maybe even tempted to cancel social arrangements, just so you can find out what happens in chapter fourteen…) The story switches between the two different characters and eras seamlessly and makes for an interesting format. Despite following two characters stories the novel was easy to follow and the format of the story helps to show the contrast between the two actresses and their lives.

Not Without You really does provide something for everyone, whatever your preference. It’s an easy read, but with a darker side and a mystery you can really get your teeth into at the same time. It’s not all realism and drama however, there are some softer, touching moments to this story too.

I can’t recommend this book enough, I thought that the storyline was inspired and if you’re a chick-lit lover but would like to try something with just a bit of a twist, then this book would be perfect.

 

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I have written seven novels (WHAT? how did that happen. That’s completely bonkers.) Yes, seven. Anyway while I get over that, what else do you need to know? I live in London, near the canal. I like: the Golden Girls, karaoke, the clothes shop Anthropologie, books books and more books, and my daughter Cora and my boyfriend Chris. Not in that order. I used to work in publishing and look at authors and think well, I can do that! So I thought I’d fulfill my life-long ambition and try writing a book because how hard can it be? Now I know the answer which is: er, kind of pretty hard. But it’s the best job in the world (apart from acting in musicals which one day I also hope to do *stop kidding yourself & get back to work*) and I know that too.

My latest book, NOT WITHOUT YOU, is out now. It’s about two film stars, one present-day, one from the 50s and the secret that links them. I loved writing it. I love old films and this was like research, but in my pajamas.

If you’d like to get in touch I would love to hear from you. Please visit my website: http://www.harriet-evans.com/

You can follow Harriet on Twitter @HarrietEvans

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