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Review: This Time Next Year, by Sophie Cousens

This is a romantic comedy centered around Quinn and Minnie, who were born a minute apart in the same London hospital, and then spend their lives orbiting each other without even being aware of it. We get the majority of the novel through Minnie's point of view, so we mostly see her interactions with her parents, her friends, and her business. Overall, this was a charming, fun, easy read that was an enjoyable romcom but probably won't ultimately leave much of an impression.

Here are the things I liked about this book: Minnie and Quinn's banter, and their relationship at large. It was fizzy, realistic, and above all legitimately funny. The slow build of their relationship from fast friends to an almost-couple to people that fall back in together was believable, and the things that kept them apart never felt contrived in the way you often get when a romance novel tries that trope. The sexual tension between them was also fiercely palpable - I yelped when they finally got together, and actually groaned in that chapter where they almost get it on but then are interrupted by Minnie's parents. The vignettes interspersed throughout the book, where we get these little brief past moments where Minnie and Quinn keep almost coming together and just missing each other, also added a really lovely layer of yearning and "oh nooooooooooo, it's just the fucking timing that's off!"-ness (is there a term for that? There really should be an official word for that feeling) to the whole novel.

I also loved the amount of pagetime that Cousens gave over to Minnie and Leila's friendship. Leila is a fully-fledged character with a quite distinct personality to Minnie, which is surprisingly rare in romcoms - she never read like the token Best Friend character, but legitimately gave good advice and pushed back when she needed to. Minnie and Leila also got into an important fight about halfway through the book and the appropriate amount of paragraphs was given over to the importance of a strong, lasting, external female friendship in any romantic partnership.

The characterization was also really well done - every single character was fully-fledged, and was true to their motivations and internal monologues throughout the book. I think Quinn's big romantic speech at the end might have fallen a little flat for me, since we spent so little time in his head and we didn't get to see the development of the relationship from his point of view, but other than that, I believed every character to be fully themselves (sidenote: Fleur was a delight and there should have been more of her in the book). I don't believe Minnie's mother fully earns her redemption by the end of the novel, but with that exception, I think everyone's storyline resolved itself in a way that was believable and true to their overall character arc.

Some things I didn't like - the stretching of credibility beyond the suspension of disbelief usually required in romcoms. Look, I'm sorry, Sophie, but it's just NOT POSSIBLE for two people to run into each other accidentally this many times in London in the space of one year. 9 million people live in this city. It is many, many miles large (I don't know the actual geographic spread and I couldn't be bothered to look it up; I'm sure someone will @ me). I have never, not once, accidentally run into anybody in this city, and I am a regular in some pretty restricted neighborhoods. This detracted from an otherwise very charming novel.

I also didn't love the way Sophie Cousens just kind of glossed over Quinn's mother, Tara's, recovery from anxiety and depression. It happened pretty quickly, and the main takeaway seems to be that if you do have anxiety and depression, all you have to do is garden and talk to a new friend and you'll be over it in just a few weeks. I don't want to take too much from this, as it's not like this book is, you know, any serious indication of what treatment for those diseases should look like; but for a book that had spent such a long time carefully showing the way Tara's illness had impacted her son and how Quinn reacted to it in such a raw, believable, heartbreaking way, it did seem like Cousens took the easy way out at the end to try and wrap up the story neatly, and that did leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

All told, though, this was a charming, easy romcom that I enjoyed the experience of reading. It handled some tricky topics globally well, and offered some truly first-class banter. If you want a palate cleanser that you don't have to think about too much, or even carry the memory of with you into your next read, then I do recommend this as like, the book equivalent of lemon sorbet. Could have used more sex, though.

Happy reading,

Amélie xx

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I’m Amélie, I love books and reading, and I also love talking about them.

I’m incredibly lucky to be bilingual, so I read books in both French and English, and will talk about both of those on here – although I will do more in English, since I know that’s probably what the majority of the people who ever find this blog will be interested in!

I also like history, traveling, Shakespeare, coffee, cheese, musicals, Italian Baroque art, the ballet, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, flowers, makeup, high heels, and baking. Yes, I’m a walking cliché. I am aware.

Please do tweet at me with any suggestions/book recommendations/thoughts.

In case you’re curious – yes, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of all time.

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