Messy, Wonderful Us

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

Very enjoyable story, with a few surprises that I didn't see coming!

Allie is a research scientist and is living a happy, normal life, until one day she finds an old letter in her grandma's drawer that reveals a secret that her grandma doesn't want to talk about, so without telling any family she sets off to Italy to find out the truth.

Along for the ride is her best friend, Ed, who has marriage issues of his own to try and sort out and needs a break so accompanies Allie.  There has never been any romance between Allie and Ed, but they have been the best of friends forever.

The book started out fairly light, with a mystery to be solved, but there were a couple of curveballs I didn't see coming, every time I thought I'd figured things out something else happened (right to the very end of the book).  It really kept me on my toes and had me glued to the story.

I don't want to ruin the story, but this was an unexpected gem of a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend.
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Messy, Wonderful, Us follows Allie as she discovers a family secret that has been hidden since before she was born. Travelling to Italy with her best friend, Ed, Allie aims to uncover the truth and help bring clarity to those she loves most.

This book was a nice, feel-good read. It focused on the relationships we have with our families and how secrets can  put a strain on them. It also focuses on friendships we have had for our whole life and how even hidden feelings can be reciprocated .

Whilst I enjoyed this book, I have to say I didn't enjoy it as much as You, Me, Everything. I found some of the plot to be quite predictable. However, I would still recommend this book.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review.
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I really wanted to like this book but struggled to care for any of the characters and their troubles. The only saving grace and made me continue reading was the Italian holiday and all the descriptions of Lake Como, the food and the hotels. 

Thank you netgalley for the opportunity to try it out.
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Deliciously Satisfying.....
A life quest, a deep history, a love story and an impossibly beautiful setting. Perfect ingredients combine to make a rather beautiful novel. A pleasure to delve into and a shame to end. Deliciously satisfying.
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Messy, Wonderful Us is the first book I’ve read by Catherine Isaac and what a first book to begin with. I started this book on my train journey to London and couldn’t put it down. I loved the strong characters and the back stories that wove through each turn of the page. It’s a beautiful story that will enthrall with each chapter and I can highly recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster UK and the author for the chance to review.
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Brilliant, brilliant read. Not my normal choice but so glad that I read this one. A real summer read, full of everything that a good novel should include Must add it's not all sunshine and roses and Catherine Isaac deals with tricky issues with sensitivity. Lots to keep the interest going and well.written. My first novel by this author and I shall be looking to read more.
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The thing that intrigued me most while reading, were the different POV's and the time jumps. Apart from our main characters' perspectives - Ed and Allie - we also get glimpses of the past, before Allie was born. Those had me hooked, I tell you. They were full of information, but you had to figure out for yourself how it'd fit into the story. Trying to puzzle it all together really was half the fun!
Basically, there's the past before Allie's birth, the past where we see her budding friendship with Ed and then the present. Those three keep switching throughout the book, making it a wonderful ride in which you see a lot of events and evolution happening.

The emotions! This truly was one hectic ride. There's hope, love and family. There's loss, grief, unanswered questions. There's this undertone of something darker going on, of secrets better kept secrets and.. the combination of all those things had me hooked. I kept wanting to find out what was really going on, how it was all going to fit together. Not to mention what role certain side characters would get in the long run!

Talking about characters.. Although Allie left for Italy in order to find out more about her family, I found it frustrating how she would be there and.. avoid the whole ordeal? I can see how you'd still want to enjoy the country and all, but the avoidance was real and it got on my nerves at times. I felt like it should've been balanced out a bit more. It sometimes took away from the story in a completely unnecessary way.

3.5 / 5

Messy, Wonderful Us is a hectic ride with a lot of emotions, a lot of hard topics and a wonderful story. Although Allie's focus could've been a bit more on getting answers, I did still enjoy reading and couldn't stop turning [digital] pages. An intriguing read that got wrapped up nicely - albeit with a bit of a bang!
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This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I will definitely be searching out more. A lovely summertime read, making me want to visit Italy again, in particular Portofino. Plenty of twists to maintain interest, touching on domestic abuse, adoption and keeps you turning the pages. A great holiday read, would recommend.
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I really enjoyed reading this book 
All its twists and turns definitely kept me hooked throughout. 
It also made me want to visit Italy and see all the wonderful places in the book.
The storyline was really engaging,the author definitely knows how to pull you in to the story and make you feel the characters.
Great book would definitely recommend you read it as soon as you can
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It doesn’t get much more soap opera than this book. Because when Allie opens a letter addressed to her grandmother thirty years ago, she finds out that her mother had an affair- and that she might have been the result of it.

Seeking to find out more about her past, she journeys to Italy, the home of her potential father, along with Ed, her childhood friend who is currently contemplating whether or not to divorce his high-flying wife Julia. Along the way, she’s about to find out more than she ever thought she would about life, love and family.

This is an interesting one. On the one hand, I really appreciated Catherine Isaac’s sensitive discussion of domestic abuse, especially as male domestic abuse victims are people we don’t often hear about. Ed’s fraught relationship with Julia, which unravels the more and more we learn about it, is definitely packed full of pathos and makes you really feel for the situation that Ed’s in. On the other, quite a few of the characters are hard to like. 

The characters are all flawed, which makes them relatable, and you do sympathise with them. However, Allie and Ed’s relationship feels a tad forced and awkward- which I imagine it would do if you were falling for your best friend- but makes you roll your eyes rather than sigh wistfully at the thought of whether or not they’ll get together. Catherine Isaac has definitely got me with the Italian holiday, though: it’s wonderfully well-described and made me yearn to book a flight there.

All in all? This was an interesting read that bravely tackled several controversial subjects- which I won’t spoil here, though you’ll probably spot the plot twist coming from a mile off- and the descriptions are lush and gorgeous. One for your holiday read next year.
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Messy, Wonderful Us.. what a delightful story. It is not all sunshine and roses, this one is an emotional roller coaster for the characters and the reader.  Mostly set in beautiful parts of Italy with 2 main characters that are likeable and easy to care about. I was hoping it was all going to work out for both of them. 

Allie is the sensible, research assistant do a letter in her grandmothers room that rocks her world. Suddenly there is a secret from her mother’s past that she needs to know more about. Her mother passed away when she was young and her grandmother refuses to talk about it. Her best friend is Ed and he has suddenly left his wife of 2 years, seemingly out of the blue. Together they travel to Italy in search of answers. Allie wants to know more about this man from her mother’s past and Ed needs to sort his head out and decide where his life is going. They both get a lot more than they bargain for.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased
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I was sent this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Catherine Isaac (she has also written as Jane Costello) writes about Allie, who lost her mother thirty years ago but is very close to her Grandma Peggy. Just before Peggy’s birthday Allie finds an envelope holding an old newspaper page from 1983, which has a picture of her mother and a man she has never seen or heard of before, nine months before she was born. 

Allie decides to hire a private detective to investigate the man in the photo and when he suggests that the only way to find out the truth is to travel to Italy, she decides to take a trip, and her best friend Ed decides to join her.
There follows a story of friendship and family and relationships that moves through 3 generations in England and Italy. I liked Allie and found myself rooting for her as I moved through the story - a book is completely made by it’s characters and it’s hard to finish a book if you feel no empathy for them. 

At the start of this book I wasn’t convinced that I would finish it and thought it would end up being another vacuous ‘he was my best friend and I never realised I loved him’ type of story - but as it went on, I realised that there was so much more, and I was sad to reach the end of the book. Definitely an author that I will seek out again.
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Allies life changes when she finds a letter and photo in her Grandmas drawers, confronting Grandma Peggy and not finding any answers  she decides to go to Italy and look for answers. Her lifelong best friend Ed is having some problems in his marriage and decides to accompany Allie to Italy. A wonderful book. I really enjoyed reading it.
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I love diving into what’s often brushed off as ‘chick-lit’. Catherine Isaac’s Messy, Wonderful Us fits perfectly into this world, but it’s nothing new. The narrative is wildly predictable and a little overdramatic. As a result, it was difficult to be emotionally invested in Allie’s pursuit of the truth. I would have much rather had fewer plots and been able to further delve into them.

The book explores themes of adoption, domestic violence and loss. They’re respectfully handled to a degree, but some readers may find the scenes of domestic violence difficult to read. Personally, I think that the way the scenes are presented and the dynamics of the relationship could be a good launchpad for discussion. It was definitely the most compelling element of the narrative.
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Another superb book from Catherine Isaac, this story gives you all of the feels and takes you to the gorgeous sights of Italy in the process.

Allie is a determined character, taught at an early age to shut her emotions away when she discovers that there might be secrets hidden in her past she has to learn to also deal with her emotions she is used to burying. 

I loved this book as I didn't expect the path that Allie took and the last few pages left me with goosebumps. 

Catherine has a way of pulling your heartstrings as you read so that you become so invested you just have to keep turning the pages. A definite must read that I will be recommending to friends and family!
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Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review 
First time reading this Author and  what a lovely  wholesome  book throughly  enjoy this book
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Having loved her previous book and giving it five stars I was very much looking forward to reading this one. I did enjoy it however I was a little underwhelmed when comparing it to her last book.

I liked the main characters, the story had a good plot and had a few twists and turns which I guessed. It was a nice enough story but it wasn’t anything unique and I found it very predictable.
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I found the plot, title and cover for this story particularly drawing. The storyline follows Allie on a journey through her family history, and Ed's marital problems. The characters were interesting, but sometimes frustrating; I was not fond of the way in which Allie kept brushing off Ed's issues with a 'not my business' attitude, particularly in this day and age. I enjoyed some of the descriptions of Italy, but I felt they could have benefitted from further depth to make you truly feel the Italian sun on your skin as you read, and engage fully in all the smells and sounds. 

I enjoyed the story, but I didn't find it particularly engaging or that it made me eager to return as soon as possible.
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Loved Catherine’s first book. And loved this one. Jetting off to Italy to unravel her past. With a beautiful warm scenic setting and adorable characters. Adorable
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This is the story of Allie, a research scientist, who by chance discovers an old letter in her grandmother's house. The letter seems to reveal an old family secret which could change a lot of what Allie thinks she knows about her family. When her grandmother is adamant that it isn't what Allie thinks and that she should forget about it, then of course she is determined to find out the truth. To do this, she will need to travel to Italy and is accompanied by her best friend Ed. Ed is having his own difficulties and the opportunity to get away for a while is just what he needs to take stock and decide the way forward for him. 

There are quite a few messy relationships in this book, but it's one of those books where it is difficult to say much about any of them without giving away the plot, so I won't. One thing I will say is that Catherine Isaac has created some wonderful characters you will really care about, across all the generations. Apart from one character who you will most definitely not like! She is equally able to convey the angst of school days and young love as she is able to show that love and relationships can still be complicated in later years.  

The book is so beautifully written and not just the relationships that Catherine Isaac writes about with great insight. The scenes set in Italy are wonderful to read about with beautiful lakes, vineyards and fabulous sounding little food shops.  

Many times the story took a direction I didn't expect at all. I was reading on the bus when one particular part took me so much by surprise that I gasped audibly, no doubt to the amusement of my fellow bus travellers! Messy, Wonderful Us is a story of family secrets and coming to terms with the past and indeed the present. The relationships may be messy but they are certainly also wonderful in this captivating book.
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