Emily Houghton brings her debut offering to the blog with
Before I Saw You
Told in two perspectives of people who are recovering from major traumatic injuries, the majority of the story takes place in a rehabilitation unit in a hospital. Alfie was in a car accident, thrown from the car, lost a leg and two best friends. Alice fell asleep at her office in the financial district when she was burned by a fire in the building. Both have struggles – from Alfie’s guilt and his need to ‘jolly up’ everyone around him to Alice’s determination to keep everyone and everything at arm’s length (or further) because it’s easier to push people away.
But we meet Alice who has remained silent since her injuries, and brought into the rehab with several conditions: no one can see her, she doesn’t respond to questions and in the time she’s been there – no one has come to visit, friend or family. On the other hand, Alfie has used his boisterous and bubbly personality to ‘lighten’ the mood in the ward, partly to avoid his own tendency to become depressed with all he’d lost, and partly to keep his mother from crying.
We see these two as Alfie’s struggles to bring Alice out of her shell work on her – from monosyllabic responses to deeper conversations and sharing dreams – the two are seeing one another without seeing. For Alice never did see Alfie (or the reverse) before he was released to home, and she had a setback. This is a character (and issue) driven story that shows how eliminating the outward appearances and judgments allow people to share their hearts, thoughts and dreams – and the realization that they both feel much more than they ever expected for one another is revealed. Using very real insecurities, past traumas, survivor’s guilt and self-isolation as spurs to move forward, the story shows us two people who know one another better than anyone else in the world yet wouldn’t recognize them should they meet on the street. With characters that pop in with advice, asked for or not, and some moments that required gathering up all the courage you never understood was there – the story ends with a happy moment and plenty of hope to share.
Title: Before I Saw You
Author: Emily Houghton
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Dual Narration, Family Saga, Friendship, Grief, Romantic Elements, Second Chance, Setting: Britain
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: 4 May, 2021
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 31 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible ♦Direct from Publisher
For fans of Close Enough to Touch and Me Before You comes a poignant and moving novel about two patients who fall in love as they recover from traumatic injuries in the same hospital ward…all without seeing each other.
Alice Gunnersley and Alfie Mack sleep just a few feet apart from one another. They talk for hours every day. And they’ve never seen each other face-to-face.
After being in terrible accidents, the two now share the same ward as long-term residents of St. Francis’s Hospital. Although they don’t get off to the best start, the close quarters (and Alfie’s persistence to befriend everyone he meets) brings them closer together. Pretty soon no one can make Alice laugh as hard as Alfie does, and Alfie feels like he’s finally found a true confidante in Alice. Between their late night talks and inside jokes, something more than friendship begins to slowly blossom between them.
But as their conditions improve and the end of their stay draws closer, Alfie and Alice are forced to decide whether it’s worth continuing a relationship with someone who’s seen all of the worst parts of you, but never seen your actual face.
A tender novel of healing and hope, Before I Saw You reminds us that connections can be found even in the most unexpected of places—and that love is almost always blind.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.