Title: I Remember You
Author: Harriet Evans
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Publisher: Downtown Press
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Tess and Adam have been best friends almost since birth. Growing up in the small town of Langford, they were inseparable. Everyone assumed they would end up together. However, things didn’t turn out as people expected – after his mother’s death, Adam stayed in Langford rather than going off to college. Tess fled Langford and moved to London.
Twelve years later, Tess has accepted a job at Langford College. She returns home to find some things very different and some, like Adam, exactly the same. She must face old feelings and ghosts from the past as she struggles with what she wants and understands what she needs out of her life.
I was a big fan of Harriet Evans’ The Love of Her Life and A Hopeless Romantic, but disappointed by Going Home, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with I Remember You. After having read it, I’m still not sure what to think – I did like it, but have mixed feelings on it. Some aspects I really enjoyed, but others didn’t work for me.
I really did like the character of Tess. She was a bit lost at the beginning of the novel, but she was sweet and genuine. She also had a healthy sense of humor. She made a great main character for this book, as I was rooting for her from beginning to end. The secondary characters from Langford were also well-written and a lot of fun. Evans did a wonderful job infusing life into this small town and making it appealing. At the same time, though, it’s easy to see why Tess is reluctant to be back there.
Evans also made an important debate one of the centerpieces of the novel, one I’m sure is currently rampaging through the English countryside. How do towns that are mostly dependent on tourist income – Jane Austen slept here, and the like – maintain their character without becoming tourist traps? At the same time, how do they cater to their residents who must grapple with their towns being taken over and balance convenience (having a supermarket, which would turn off tourists) with their economic livelihood? It’s an interesting dilemma, and very easy to see both sides.
While I did like the main character and many of the secondary characters, I didn’t like two very important people in the novel – Adam and Francesca. Francesca is a woman who just moved to town, escaping from London, and becomes Tess’s roommate. She and Adam quickly involve themselves in a relationship. It’s strange because I couldn’t understand why Tess was friends with her. They often fought and Francesca seemed mean a lot of the time. Adam was the same way – he was unnecessarily cruel way too often. I understand he and Tess have a history, but I couldn’t understand why he was such a mean person. He definitely changes over the course of the novel, but I never shook that initial impression of him.
I Remember You is also a bit too long. There was really no need for this book to be over 300 or so pages. As a result, it really drags towards the end when the reader can see exactly where everything is heading, but it takes about 100 pages to get there. It’s a minor quibble, but an important one.
All in all, while I liked I Remember You, I can’t say I truly enjoyed it. There were parts that were really interesting, and parts that just weren’t. It seemed as if Evans was trying to do a little too much with this book, and in this case, less would have been better. Despite my mixed feelings on this book, I will make sure to read her next one!