Is it just me or when the title of a book mirrors the lyrics of a song, do you get the song stuck in your head in a loop? Ever since I picked up Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell (in stores June 4), I have Liza Minnelli’s voice in my head—not that I ever mind a good Broadway soundtrack every now and then. But that’s beside the point.
I was looking for something a little lighter to enjoy while I was on vacation, and this ended up being a perfect story. It was much more plot-driven than the typical beach read (which I really appreciate) and the plot was a mixture of heartwarming and heartbreaking and really made me feel. I’ve never read anything by Jill Mansell before, but this definitely won’t be the last book of hers that I pick up.
When Mimi first visits her dad’s new home in the Cotswolds, she quickly falls in love with Goosebrook and its inhabitants. (Well, maybe not rude Henrietta, who lets Mimi walk miles in the rain rather than give her a lift.) There’s Paddy, with his flashing eyes and seductive charm. Friendly and funny Lois makes her laugh. And seriously gorgeous Cal is welcoming and charismatic. Mimi would be more than happy to return to Goosebrook if it means bumping into him again…
Time passes and Mimi comes and goes, and concentrates on her career. Yet as their lives continue to intersect over the years and emotions (or relationships) become tangled, it’s Cal who makes her feel most welcome whenever she does return to Goosebrook. But if he’s The One, will it ever be the right time for them both?
I appreciate the fact that Jill Mansell sets up a world with many developed characters with intertwined stories that make me feel like Goosebrook is a real place and that I want to visit the pub to hang out with the residents on a nightly basis. I love that we get to know the characters with Mimi, first as an outsider, and then on a more deeper level as she becomes more integrated into the community. Her relationships with the people of the town seem genuine as we get to see them develop over many years.
There is a tragic event that happens pretty early on in the book and the rest of the book deals with the aftermath beyond what we would normally get in this type of novel. We see how this catastrophe affected everyone in this little town over the next few years and how relationships needed to grow or change to make it through.
The central love story of the story is a slow burn, and I love it. It’s a true testament to missed chances, timing not working out quite right and miscommunication that is much more realistic than falling in love over a long weekend vacation—which we all know is usually how it goes in these novels—so I’m very happy we had time to get to know the characters and fall in love with them, too.
“Every time their hands touched, it felt like magic, and she half expected stars to appear, Disney–style. Cal might be concentrating on the task, but all she was concentrating on was Cal.” —Jill Mansell, Maybe This Time
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the advanced copy, and to Ivy Barn on Unsplash for the featured photo of the Cotswolds.