Title: Fancy Meeting You Here
Author: Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 30th November 2021
Synopsis: Sometimes the man of your dreams is standing right in front of you… only ten years in the past. A charming and unconventional love story about trying to rewrite history.
Evie Berry is a thirty-year-old wannabe screenwriter who spends her days managing a London cinema bar and making the podcast Pasta La Vista with her best friend Ben. She’s also obsessed with Hugo Hearst. Have you heard of him? Of course you have. He’s only one of the most influential and not to mention swoon-worthy bestselling writers of his generation.
When Evie’s not hooking up with her on-again, off-again booty call ‘Ever-Ready Freddy’ (and sometimes even when she is), she fantasises about what might have been if she’d met Hugo years ago, when he was just a struggling writer.
After Evie interviews a psychic to the stars on her podcast, her life is catapulted ten years into the past. But the grass isn’t quite as green as she remembers . . .
Fancy Meeting You Here is a hilarious and heartwarming new book from the bestselling authors of the global hits The Book Ninja and While You Were Reading – a love story about reliving your early twenties and testing out that old saying: be careful what you wish for.
If you had the chance to redo things, and relive your twenties, what would you change? Would you change anything? When Evie Berry, aged thirty, is suddenly thrust ten years into the past following an interview with a psychic on her podcast, she decides that she will do what she can to change her fate. She embarks on a journey to meet Hugo Hearst, her idol and influential author. But Evie is also armed with ten years of future knowledge – knowing what is to come for her family, for women and society at large, so she has to be careful to avoid mentioning things that might confuse people. At first, Evie thinks the past will be better than the future she sees ahead of her – and thinks maybe she can change things as well. As Evie navigates a pre-Me Too world, where the women around her seem to accept that some men will leer at them, and where attitudes surrounding issues she is passionate about are vastly different, and the discussions around them non-existent, Evie wonders if she can change things earlier -without altering the future too much – and breaking the cardinal rule of time travel to not let what you do in the past affect the future too dramatically.
Evie is a brilliant character – flawed and fully formed and allowed to be who she is. She’s not perfect, and she has lessons to learn, and her feminism is allowed to grow and change as she realises some people are not who they say they are, and she comes to realise that idolising someone can be more harmful than good, and it will eventually hurt her and change her. And it is more than just a love story about a man and a woman. It is a tribute to the arts, and the passion the authors have for each other and their writing, words, and books – and for me, this was the most important aspect of the romance. The love of words, and how Evie, the readers, the authors, and the other characters engage with stories and words – whether on the page or on the screen. There is a beauty in how stories are engaged with, and the role that they have played in our lives and in Evie’s life – how they have shaped her.
Ali and Michelle also insert cheeky references to beloved romantic comedies, allowing the reader to see the texts they have engaged with highlighted. It also picks up on ideas surrounding creators – who creates what and how – and exposes Evie to the world of screen writing in a different way to how she thought she would be. In allowing Evie to see what could have been through the lens of a future experience, whilst being stuck in the past, Ali and Michelle’s story presented a well-rounded character who managed to change her life and help others as well – in ways that they might not have realised were part of a future movement at the time. This is what I love about Ali and Michelle’s book – their ability to make relatable characters, tease out societal issues, and give women a powerful and self-assured voice whilst being extremely entertaining and cheekily linking their books in sly and creative ways that bring a smile to their readers faces.
I’m looking forward to their next book!