Claudia Carroll’s latest novel, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," was the first book I received in the post (courtesy of Charlotte Allen at HarperCollins UK) after becoming an Associate Reviewer. I nearly hugged the postman I was so excited! This is Irish author (and actress) Claudia’s eighth novel although this was the first time I’d come across her work. High hopes quickly set-in with the back cover stating it is ‘perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes’, sounded like I could be in for a good read!
The book follows Annie, one half of an apparent perfect couple, Annie and Dan. Annie and Dan are childhood sweethearts, meeting at boarding school in Dublin in their early teens and soon becoming inseparable, despite family warnings they go on to marry in their early twenties. When Dan’s father passes away they move to be with his family in Stickens a village which is a good two-hour drive from their happy city-life. We join Annie as she struggles with rural life, in-law family life and despite being surrounded by people her feelings of isolation and being stuck in a rut, becoming old before her time. Not only has Annie effectively put her acting career on hold since moving to the village – working in a small bookshop instead; she barely ever sees Dan who is busy establishing his veterinary practice and being ‘Mr Nice Guy’ to everyone with detrimental consequences for the marriage.
Annie hits a point of no return just as she is offered her dream job – a part in a Broadway show. Will an already strained relationship survive this upheaval? We follow the story as Annie moves to New York for her twelve-month stint in the play. One final let-down later they agree to a twelve-month break – a relationship sabbatical, a chance for Annie to live the life she always felt she missed out on, no strings, ‘no obligation..to call or check in or try to keep us alive. No pressure, no long-distance relationship, no stress’.
So we follow Annie as she lives her life in New York with her Irish actress friends. The question is, after this time-out, will Annie and Dan meet as planned in December at the Rockefeller Center? And even if they do, what will happen next? With the Countess Dracula (Lisa) hovering in Stickens like a lion ready to pounce on its prey as soon as Annie is out of the way, will Dan even be interested in reconciling his marriage? Will Annie’s head and heart be turned by the successful and handsome theatre director Jack?
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. The pace was just right throughout – there were no lull points and I felt quite sad that the book had to end at all. The book is written in first-person and I think that added to the empathy with Annie, you really do feel her frustration with Dan and you long for him to notice her and give their relationship the quality time it is so clearly lacking. You feel sad that a relationship so once full of love is flailing, and yet it’s nothing to do with infidelity or money, something much simpler but perhaps less understandable to those outside of the relationship. This was captured perfectly.
I loved the contrast between Stickens and New York, I felt transported to New York and felt like I was living Annie’s life there with her and Claudia captures the outsider’s perspectives of New York well. It was also a very witty novel and I enjoyed the use of contemporary metaphors and similies throughout (e.g. ‘I’ve never witnessed anything like Liz’s capacity for alcohol; honest to god, the girl can slosh them back like a camel fuelling up before a Saharan crossing’). To balance out all the wittiness, serious issues such as drug misuse are also covered which add texture to the story and the supporting characters.
You really do wish Annie a happy ending throughout; you just don’t know what the right happy ending for her is for most of the book which leaves you gripped. It’s hard to find any negative points, at a push all I could say is that some of the same descriptions are used to emphasise the same points in different parts of the book (e.g. knots of tension in Annie’s stomach).
Overall, a definite recommended read from me!
More by Claudia Carroll: