Leah's Reviews > If Only You Knew

If Only You Knew by Claire Allan
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Nov 15, 11

bookshelves: for-review, books-read-2011
Read on November 08, 2011

I’ve not read any of Claire Allan’s books, until I picked up her new book If Only You Knew, but I do have another of hers on my shelf to read and after reading If Only You Knew, I’ll definitely be cracking open another Claire Allan book as she’s an immensely talented writer. I love trying new authors and although Claire’s not a “new” author, having published five novels thus far, she is a new author to me and I was mightily impressed with If Only You Knew. Claire talks about this novel about it being her best yet, about it being her breakout novel and although I can’t confirm the latter statement having not read any of her previous four, If Only You Knew is certainly a book that makes a statement and it was certainly an excellent, excellent read.

If Only You Knew is about two cousins, Ava Campbell and Hope Scott, who are tasked – although, tasked is a bit strong a word, considering where they go to do said task – with the, er, task of sorting through their late Aunt Betty’s life once she dies at her house in Saint Jeannet (in France). They’re confused as to why Betty chose them; after all, Ava only met Betty once at a funeral and Hope only stayed with her for a month years ago when she went travelling with her best friend Dylan. However the two cousins duly head to France, and once there, they find letters from Betty, detailing her life in France and her life in Ireland before she went to France, and as the girls delve more into Betty’s life they learn of secrets they weren’t already aware of and they figure out that although Betty only knew them barely, she was indeed a lot more perceptive than anyone gave her credit for.

I very much enjoyed reading If Only You Knew, the story is an excellent one, although there is a niggling feeling that I’ve read a similar book that was also really good (so good, I appear to have forgotten what it was…). I wasn’t sure what to expect, as you know, but it’s a really perceptive read. I felt Claire Allan tapped in to the story brilliantly, managing to make Betty such an important part of the book despite her death, I felt she tapped into Ava and Hope in such a way that they’ll stay with me for a while yet and I just found the whole book to be an enchanting read. I found myself getting lost in the story, getting lost in Betty’s letters which really, really added to the book. It’s truly one of the most impressive books I’ve read this year and I was just so impressed with how layered it was.

If Only You Knew really impressed me. I just loved it all and it was just the whole package, a nice story, a good backstory, characters I cared about. The only thing I felt was lacking was a real set-to between Hope and her best friend (and secret love) Dylan. I kept waiting for them to duke it out properly, for Hope to just be honest and it never came, which was a shame. It seemed as if it needed to happen, if I’m honest, and I was disappointed it never did. Apart from that, though, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of the book. Claire Allan is supremely talented (even if she sometimes uses Irish words I don’t understand – boking, for example, which if my powers of deduction are correct it means puking. I also don’t understand the use of the word “baggage” as in “You’re such baggage”, because to me, that makes no sense!) and I just loved the whole book. I will indeed be reading the other Allan novel I have, and I can safely presume that this is indeed her breakout book and what a book it is.
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11/08/2011 page 328
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