You, with a View, by Jessica Joyce

You, with a View by Jessica Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After two extremely bad novels, I needed a winner to overcome a severe reading slump – and this one served very well. Amusingly, the one genre I never used to read – romance – led me straight back to reading.

Noelle, going on 30, has lost her beloved grandmother Kathleen, her job and her flat; the latter, adding insult to injury, leading to her moving back into her childhood bedroom at her parents’…

At that point, still deeply grieving, Noelle finds out that Kathleen had a great love before her eventual husband. Her curiosity piqued and in continuation of an old secret-trading game Noelle and granny played, she finds Paul, her grandmother’s old lover, and his grandson – her college “nemesis” Theo.

Theo has become a hotshot entrepreneur, a Forbes’ 30 Under 30 – you get the gist. There’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, though… Together, our three protagonists go on a roadtrip to the core of their respective relationships.

This is the basic story and, of course, Noelle and Theo fall for each other in a enemies/rivals-to-lovers situation. What made me basically plough through this novel over the course of two days was the sensitivity with which all three protagonists are portrayed: Scarce are the “cheap shots” and yet “You” exudes an atmosphere of kind, sensible and sensitive lightness without being without substance.

The banter between Noelle and Theo is entertaining and funny and their more serious interactions feel heartfelt and honest. Throughout the entire novel, the story and its protagonists never leave the realm of plausibility.

Both Theo and Noelle have serious issues in their lives but Noelle slowly opens up to Theo and their mutual trust grows while they get to know each other again. There’s attraction early on but no “instant love” but personal growth in vibrantly and lively depicted environments.

There’s also no third-act breakup: Yes, there’s a conflict but it arises completely naturally and believably. It’s also dealt with by the author in a very sensible and sensitive manner – I could very much relate to Theo’s unfortunate behaviour and in the 25th year of our marriage (haha, C.!) I’m very happy to have found a person who acted (and still sometimes has to act) just like Noelle does at a certain point.

Paul is also a well-used asset and I really think the overarching backstory of his relationship with Kathleen really added to the mix. I really, really liked the epilogue as well. A brilliant and very fitting idea that I’ve actually never read before.

Even among its countless siblings in the romance genre, “You” stands strong and tall.

The missing fifth star is due to some choices of the author I don’t fully approve of but which only marginally diminished my enthusiastic reading of a very nice, charming, and refreshing romance novel.

Thus, very easy, very deserved four stars out of five.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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