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Our Review

‘What defined you wasn’t the thing that had made you falter and fall. What defined you was the way you got back up, put one foot in front of the other, and kept on walking.’

We absolutely love Sarra Manning, her books are always something incredibly special with real and flawed characters that feel like people you know, in a setting you can relate to. London, With Love, is an epic story about growing up, friendships, family, love, and life. It’s a story of missed chances and following your dreams. Written in the third person, which is not our favourite, we struggled for a moment or two in the beginning, but we knew this book was going to be something incredibly special, so we persevered, and we’re glad we did. This Author in many ways created something that felt so close to our hearts, with a trip down memory lane set in a city we’re so familiar with. It felt sentimental, it brought our own memories to the forefront of our minds, and we felt as if we knew Jen and Nick as we wholeheartedly felt as if we were entwined in their story. What a magnificent talent it is to write a book that speaks to a reader’s heart in this immeasurable way.

‘He’d seen the best of her, the absolute worst of her. She’d loved him. She’d hated him…’

Starting off in 1986, we follow Jen as she moves through life up until present day with everything and everyone in between. What a poignant, emotional, melancholy, and surprising journey it was. A journey that follows the tube map of London with a detour to New York City, a place marked with poignancy and factual moments of horrific tragedies to highlight the depth of the connection between two people whose stars aren’t quite aligned yet whose souls forged at the tender age of sixteen.

‘But what if? But what if I told him that I loved him? But what if he came to get me and take me away?’

We first meet Jen when she starts at a new college to begin her A Levels, desperate to truly find herself whilst retaining her own individuality. Being a bit of a loner and a victim of bullying, Jen is desperate for friendships and experiences. A book worm at heart, music is her passion, and her heart undoubtedly belongs to the mysterious and pretentious boy in her English class, Nick. The ups and downs of friendships, the pitfalls of a secret crush on a boy who becomes her best friend. It’s all very intense and heavy in emotion and teenage angst. We remember those years!

‘One kiss, one kiss to wipe away the bitter memories of their first kiss and their second kiss. Third time was the charm. One kiss, a last kiss, couldn’t hurt.’

Timings are everything, and who or what decides when the timing is right? Sometimes we need to experience and grow. Sometimes it’s just simply, sod’s law. Sometimes you get a taste of what you want but it’s just outside your grasp. It’s frustrating, it’s heartbreaking and it’s plain unfair. However, sometimes it happens like that for a reason, as once the timing is perfect, it makes it so incredibly special, it’s worth all the pain and tears to finally…. finally, be where you’ve always needed and wanted to be.

“I miss us…I miss being a teenager and how I got to spend hours hanging out with the person I liked the best. Hours, Jen, when we just listened to music and talked and talked.”

London, With Love is a magnificent novel. One that burrowed deep within our hearts. It is not a pretty romance or an easy-to-read romance, however, it felt like we were climbing a mountain, through rough arduous terrain, into the dark clouds hoping the sun was shining at the top for us to revel in the beauty of momentous clarity in all its wonderful splendour. And we did, and you couldn’t have knocked the smiles off our faces or steadied the beat of our hearts. Sarra Manning is a wonderful writer and once again we fell in love. If done right, this would make a beautiful film of nostalgia and true enduring love!

Synopsis

London. Nine million people. Two hundred and seventy tube stations. Every day, thousands of chance encounters, first dates, goodbyes and happy ever afters.

And for twenty years it’s been where one man and one woman can never get their timing right.

Jennifer and Nick meet as teenagers and over the next two decades, they fall in and out of love with each other. Sometimes they start kissing. Sometimes they’re just friends. Sometimes they stop speaking, but they always find their way back to each other.

But after all this time, are they destined to be together or have they finally reached the end of the line?

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