Is it ever too late to rewrite the past?
When Lina and Ash were at school, they buried a time capsule containing letters about their hopes and dreams, and predictions for each other's futures.
Twenty years later, their realities couldn't be further from what they'd expected. And as for Lina and Ash? They're not in each other's lives anymore.
When a reunion brings Lina and Ash back together, they agree to give the dreams they walked away from another chance and embark on a trip that could change everything.
And if they can overcome what happened in the past, then maybe the end of their love story was really just the beginning...
Always You is Caroline Khoury's second novel and I bought it as an e-book on Amazon to read on my Kindle. Her first novel, It Must Be Love, was really enjoyable, so I was looking forward to reading Always You.
The overall structure of Always You is a dual timeline that flicks back and forth between the present and near past, illuminating the reader's understanding of the characters in the present day by showing us what had happened in their childhood and teenage years.
I found the movement between the two timelines seamless and easy to follow, and I enjoyed the sense of continuity between the two. The story is told in the first person from the perspective of Lina, a responsible and likeable heroine who puts others before her own dreams.
The characters were engaging and intriguing from the very first page, particularly Lina, as the reader gets to share her thoughts and perspective. I felt a lot of empathy for her because of her sad family circumstances and the fact that her career has stalled, but I also admired her positive attitude in tackling the challenges in her life.
We see the other characters through Lina's eyes, which sometimes means the reader doesn't fully understand their actions or behaviour, to begin with, but that mystery forms part of the suspense. As the story moves forward, the gaps in our understanding are filled, and I enjoyed how the characters of Ash and Nik, and the romantic twists and turns of the plot, developed.
I also loved the relationship that Lina has with her dad, 'Baba', and how Lina's gradual realisation that she needs to live her own life, is mirrored by her dad's encouragement and support.
There was a real beating pulse to the emotions behind all of the characters' interactions which meant that the book was very satisfying to read.
The romance in the novel is woven into the plot beautifully. I loved how Lina had plenty of things going on in her life (friends, family, work) which meant that romance wasn't her only preoccupation. The love story, however, was deep and enduring, and had many dimensions, which kept it fresh and original.
The medical condition that Lina suffers from was depicted really well and I thought it was so moving how her physical problems were brought into the romance as something that enabled a particular relationship with a certain someone (no spoilers here!) to deepen. It was such a emotional moment.
The setting was full of colour and variety. Most of the book is set in London, where Lina lives, and this is depicted with lively descriptions of Lina's family deli, the neighbourhood, and restaurants. I enjoyed the descriptions of Greece when the plot moved to the Mediterranean and it was good to see Lina spreading her wings at last. Reading the book also made me hungry to try dolmades and the food that Ash cooks!
In summary, this is a very heart-warming, emotionally satisfying, and well-written book that offers surprises and cliff-hangers along the way. The characters are brilliantly captured and I was sorry to leave them behind when I reached the end.
Also posted as an Amazon Review.