The good: Witty, with never a dull moment.
The not-so-good: Robin, I just wish you would go away!
Why I chose it: I was sick and I wanted something to distract me. This worked.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Setting: Sheffield, UK
Rating: 10 out of 10
I’ll let you in on a secret. Sometimes books that are billed as romantic comedies are more of a drama to me than laugh out loud comedy. Maybe it’s just me, I thought. But in Mhairi McFarlane I have found an author that truly makes me laugh. No forced giggles, but inappropriate snorting on public transport. I was hoping that her previous novel, Who’s That Girl?, wasn’t a once off in the laughter stakes. Happily, I can now confirm that Don’t You Forget About Me is just as funny with added seriously that tones in beautifully.
Don’t You Forget About Me (I always start singing the song at this point) is set in Sheffield, which pleases this Arctic Monkeys fan. (No sightings of them, though I’m sure they would go to the pub featured heavily in this book). Georgina would like to be a writer although she doesn’t really write much at all. She has a job at the Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (which the Arctic Monkeys would definitely not go to, and if they did, would write a song about it). When a food critic questions the food, Georgina finds herself on the receiving end of the fury and is fired. She then decides to go to her boyfriend’s place, but finds him in flagrante delicto with his assistant. It’s not great for Georgina but it does make for lots of funny lines throughout the book. Georgina gets a new job working in a pub and finds out a little too late that one of her bosses is her first love, Lucas. But he claims not to remember her face or any interaction ever.
Georgina has felt a sense of loss at the way her relationship with Lucas ended abruptly at the end of high school and it’s haunted her ever since. Not long after, her world changed forever and she’s still processing that. Her relationship with her family isn’t great, but her friends are excellent. Relationships in their various forms are explored throughout the novel. Georgina’s relationship with her now-ex is toxic, with him gaslighting her during their relationship and him doing creepy, stalker stuff after the split. Georgina’s mum and stepfather have an imbalance of power in their relationship, with things spilling over in how Georgina is treated. Her sister and mother are disappointed at the lack of progress in Georgina’s life and the way they tell her that isn’t always the best. It’s no wonder that her job and friends are the only things that make her happy! (Even Georgina’s flat mate is from hell).
The way the humour is combined with the darker side of relationships and the feeling of failure Georgina tries to hide is really well done. At no time did I think serious issues were being treated too lightly or the story got bogged down in sadness. The plot moved along at a solid pace and always with a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Being able to relate to the characters and their flaws was also great – even Lucas is not immune from mistakes and doing awkward things to protect himself. Georgina’s late blossoming was lovely to read, as well as making the reader feel comfortable at not having it all at a certain age (or wearing pink fluffy coats in adulthood).
If you haven’t read Mhairi McFarlane, you’re missing out on laughs and warmth.