Cover Image: This Changes Everything

This Changes Everything

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Enjoyed this book, told the story of  a Mum who goes on a trip to meet up with old boyfriend she has not seen for
50 years, her daughters decide to follow her just to keep an eye on her.

But the trip opened up some secrets that changed all their lives for the better.
Was this review helpful?
As it looks more likely as every day passes us by that we won’t be getting away on holiday any time soon, we all need a little escapism in the form of reading more than ever, and this book certainly takes us on a journey.

As this story begins and we meet Annie, James and their children, they appear to be a family that has everything figured out perfectly. Annie’s sister Jess has also got a comfortable life with a career she loves, so everyone seems happy and content, apart from their mother Julia that is. Although Julia declares that she is happy, she then announces something that truly shocks her family – that she plans to reunite with her first love Patrick as they are taking a trip to Rome together.

This is such a wonderful debut by Helen McGinn. Her writing style is truly beautiful and really makes you feel fully invested in the story right from the start. The characters are so perfectly crafted, each of them having their own personalities and depths that come to light throughout the story. The setting is stunning and is brought to life through the authors fantastic, descriptive writing – so much so you can certainly picture walking through Rome yourself.

I loved how we got a view of Julia and Patricks current happiness, alongside flashbacks to their somewhat turbulent past. It really allowed me to connect with Julia on a new level, and understand her character much better. The love story that you uncover as you delve in to the past is quite simply breath taking as well as heart breaking.

And then of course we are treated with a twist in the plot, something which I must admit I had anticipated as the title so suggests. However, the twist itself I had not anticipated at all, and it really was a brilliant addition to this already wonderful book.

This book really did have me hooked from the start. I truly felt as though I had been taken on an emotional rollercoaster as this story progressed, and I would certainly recommend it to everyone.
Was this review helpful?
Two adult sisters learn their much-divorced mother is traveling to Rome to meet her first love after decades of no contact.  They decide to follow her to keep her from making another mistake.  What they learn when discovered is the whole basis for the rest of the book.  This was interesting, but not exceptional.  Reading it was a nice diversion, but I didn't find the characters or the story line very unique.
Was this review helpful?
I love how we are introduced to the sisters, Annie and Jess, who while related, definitely have different personalities, different goals, and different dreams. Hello? They are FAMILY, not copies of one another, so that makes perfect sense, but it's how beautifully they fit together in that family that makes it something special. Then we have their mother, Julia, who while seen as eccentric to some degree, we come to understand that she merely had a love of life, a love of love, and while satisfied predominantly along the way, had lost her true heart to circumstances taken out of her hands. The way she pulled things together, built herself up stronger, and persevered was inspiring. The way her love came back to her tenfold, remarkable and so very deserved. This trio of wonderful women have had setbacks, hard times, and challenges in their lives, but they've never let themselves succumb to it all. They pushed forward, held their heads high, and found their way through it all...and I do believe it is that strongly made fountain that carries them through what could have been a very tumultuous revelation. I mean, the title was spot DID change everything...and yet, nothing all at the same time.

I don't want to go into too much detail because the revelations that come along the way are best experienced first hand, but take it from me, the beauty of this story is in the connections that the characters have to themselves and each other. It was wondrous to follow and a joy to conclude, even if you do want to spend more time with them all...but that is the beauty of the written word, and a well written story; you're welcome back any time.
Was this review helpful?
One of the most beautiful books read this year. The books started like a rom-com of sorts where the mother Julia was off to Rome to meet an old boyfriend whom she had not seen in the past 50 years. And the daughters, Jessie and Annie, followed her to keep an eye on her antics.

I started this book, imagining it to be a light fluffy read, all that was needed on a Saturday afternoon, but it turned out to be was so much more. A secret hidden for more than 50 years changed the dynamics of the family, and the story became a well of emotions where the relationship between the different members of the family shone through.

The two sisters were varied in their nature yet joined together by their bond of love. The mother, though initially whom I thought to be ditsy, turned out to be someone who was nuanced with hidden depths in her. I loved the writing which changed dramatically when the secret was revealed. The mother turned out to be someone whom I saw with different eyes by the time I reached the mid-book.

This was a new author for me, but she made her way into my heart when every word written evoked my emotions too. I smiled, laughed, cried, lamented, went through a whole gamut of them right till the end. I felt I lived this book through the characters. Found my eyes filming over quite frequently.

A beautiful read for me
Was this review helpful?
Witty, astute and poignant, Helen McGinn’s This Changes Everything is a terrific tale of family ties, affairs of the heart and taking chances perfect for Fern Britton and Cathy Kelly fans.

Sisters Annie and Jess are well aware of the fact that their mother Julia is spontaneous and impulsive. Nothing their mother comes out with shocks or surprises them, but even Julia manages to pull the rug out from under their feet when she drops her latest bombshell: she is about to fly to Rome where she hopes to meet and reconnect with her first love, Patrick, whom she hasn’t seen in fifty years. On hearing this shocking news, Annie and Jess are beside themselves with worry. What if Patrick is a serial killer? Or somebody who could put their mother in danger. Realizing that they cannot let their impetuous mother loose in Rome by herself, the two sisters realize that there is only thing for it: they’ll accompany Julia to Italy and act as her chaperones. What could possibly go wrong?

As the three women travel to the Italian capital, they are soon bowled over by the sights and sounds of this beautiful city. However, the girls know that they cannot let all the Italian wine and delicious food distract them from the reason why they have really travelled all this way: Patrick. He had been Julia’s first love and although the two of them had been wrenched apart by destiny, their feelings for one another never diminished. Can Patrick and Julia pick up where they left off? Are they finally going to get a second chance at happiness and the possibility to spend the rest of their lives together? Or will old secrets and past demons ruin any possibility Patrick and Julia might have of a future?

With so much at stake and everything to lose, one thing is for certain: life for Annie, Jess and Julia will never be the same again…

Helen McGinn’s This Changes Everything is a book about following your heart, pursuing your dreams and the ties that bind and break us that effortlessly sweeps the reader to Italy and will have them feeling the heat of the Mediterranean sun on their skin and almost tasting the delicious food the characters in this novels are eating. This Changes Everything is a funny and escapist read that also tackles with great depth and sensitivity important topics and issues readers will relate to and ponder on long after the last page is turned.

Full of hope, heart and humour, Helen McGinn’s This Changes Everything is an uplifting, wise and emotional read that makes for perfect escapist reading.
Was this review helpful?
This Changes Everything by Helen McGinn is her debut fiction book as she has previously published non-fiction. After reading this story I shall be waiting for her next foray into fiction for sure.
Julia, a woman with a few marriages behind her makes a decision to go to Rome and meet up with her first love. When her daughters Annie and Jess learn of this they are immediately worried. They know their mother hasn't seen Patrick for thirty years and every bad scenario runs through their heads. They decide to follow her to Rome, just in case! As the story unfolds so does the heartbreaking tale of Julia's and Patricks young love, one that was broken due to Julia's mother and left them picking up the pieces of their broken hearts. While in Rome a secret is discovered that Julia has kept for the last thirty years. What impact will this have on Julia and Patricks future and both her daughters too?
A beautiful book with such gorgeous settings! I mean, who really can resist Cornwall and Rome? Especially in these gloomy lockdown days we find ourselves living in. Helen McGinn's writing had me transported back to Cornwall, a place I adore, in the blink of an eye. Rome, somewhere I have never had the pleasure to visit, made me feel like I was in that beautiful country. The characters are all very real, I mean, two daughters worrying about a mum like that! That is exactly what any daughter would be like if their mum was doing that sort of thing! The very idea of it brought a smile to my face. Protective much?
A story of family first and foremost, then love and second chances told in beautiful settings what more can we want?
Thank you to Rachel's Random Resources and Boldwood Books for the copy of the book and my place on the book tour.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this book!!
Really well written with such a familiar style that I could dive in and get lost very quickly. 
Primarily the story of two sisters Annie and Jess, along with their mother who they followed to Rome to keep an eye on. The book takes you to Cornish beaches, Rome and a bit of London and Surrey thrown in too!
Great book to read through lockdown!! Fabulous escapism, brilliant characters, and loved reading all the drink references of different wines and cocktails......which I have to say were totally appropriate!! Nice to see a Negroni and Chenin Blanc reference! 
I'll be looking out for Helen's next book!!
Thank you for early read.
Was this review helpful?
This Changes Everything is a bloody marvelous book! I absolutely loved the book from the very start, its full of sassy women, sarcasm, and love and written by an extremely talented author, there was ugly tears, a sleepless night, and a heart filled with love from this book. 

The book starts off with Annie, Jess, and their mother Julia; Julia who has been married 3 times, can’t seem to find the love that she needs. Annie, who has been married for 10 years and doesn’t seem to be quite that happy, and then there is Jess, who seems to always choose the wrong man. 

But when Julia reconnects to someone in her past and plans to meet in Rome, Jess and Annie spring into action to protect their mother from making yet another mistake, but things don't go the way they expected and as a result, they found out a whole lot more about themself, but that was before a bombshell was laid upon them. 

Such a remarkable book from Helen McGinn, she is a beautiful storyteller and I feel that we will be hearing a lot more about her in the future.
Was this review helpful?
When Julia decides that she is travelling to Rome to meet up with a special man from her past her daughters, Annie and Jessie, are concerned as Julia, now in her seventies, has a tendency to be overly spontaneous. The sisters are naturally cautious about what might happen when their three times married mother meets again with Patrick, the man who was her first love many years ago, and Annie and Jess are determined to keep a clandestine eye on Julia whilst she is in Rome.

Rome is described in such a lovely way that both the place, and its people, come alive in the imagination. I especially enjoyed getting to know Julia, Annie and Jess, and as the emotional reasons for travelling to meet in Patrick in Rome are revealed so the story starts to gain momentum. That there are secrets to be uncovered becomes obvious as the story progresses and in part two of the story, which I think was my favourite, all the loose threads of this complex family drama start to be brought together.

In This Changes Everything the author has handled a difficult subject with sensitivity, warmth and understanding and has written an interesting multi-generational family saga which is filled with secrets and emotional surprises.
Was this review helpful?
Undoubtedly, my favourite part of this book was when McGinn takes us for a tour of Rome. It felt like a walking holiday from the comfort of my sofa! With such vivid descriptions, I happily escaped to Europe and was saddened when McGinn transfers the narrative back to England. I wanted more Italy!

At first I thought this book would all be about the sisters and their mother, focusing on their relationship dynamics. After meeting up in Rome (mostly deliberately), the sisters want to keep an eye on their mother, who seems to have a reputation for getting married at the drop of a hat. Coming to Rome, it seems that all three women are trying to escape a situation back home, either in the past or present, and I liked how McGinn unifies them through these circumstances: it is more than a mother-daughter relationship.

However, after one chapter leaving me gasping in disbelief, the book turns into an exploration of the past between Julia and Patrick. It is soon revealed that they are more than just old friends and I definitely did not predict how the plot would turn when the story moves back to England. As such, readers are presented with a time-line shift as we learn about Julia and Patrick’s past; what makes them such close friends and why they seem to have an instant spark when reuniting in Rome.

Without giving too much away, returning to England is the most important element to the story. Again, I was surprised and disappointed by this turn of events because of how vividly McGinn portrays Rome: it felt like I was there experiencing the city with the women. Nonetheless, the importance of family continues to dominate the narrative as Annie and Jess build connections with their mother’s past. Scenes are rather emotional and touching and I think McGinn’s portrayal really emphasises the significance of love and communication.

Whilst some parts of the story were a little predictable, this definitely did not lessen my enjoyment of the novel. I liked the happy atmosphere that runs throughout and the sense of belonging. Indeed, I did feel like I was on a journey with Annie and Jess: beyond Rome and how they learn more about their mother in the second part of the story. When I finished the book, I definitely felt satisfied and optimistic: McGinn portrays solidarity and hope that families can connect and reunite, despite unexpected news.

With thanks to Boldwood Books, NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This Changes Everything is the book I needed yet had no idea I wanted. I went in expecting a romance, but what I got was not a romance in the traditional sense. However, there is plenty of love to go around. This family is something special, and I am happy to have been a part of it.

This novel starts like so many others. Two sisters who are complete opposites and a flighty mother. I was ready for this to be Jess’s story. She is without a mate, which usually means she is going to end up as the protagonist. I wasn’t expecting it when the story turned out to be Julia’s (the mother).

Though, that is a bit of a mistake on my part. The story belongs to Julia and Patrick. Though it encompasses both their families and another family no one expects. The perspective changes often, which can be jarring. Yet I felt like I got a bonus by hearing how life affected everyone involved.

This book is the epitome of a happy ending. It comes full circle, yet all the in-between is passionate, emotional, and heartbreaking. I wish we could have more of these characters. They are so real that I feel like I might walk into them on the street while hunting for my morning cuppa.

The only thing that bothered me was that every glass of wine needed a lengthy description. I am not a wine drinker, so I have no desire to know the exact wine being drunk. For me, trying to decipher the pronunciation and such was distracting. But, this is such a small thing that it didn’t damper my enjoyment of the novel.

I am happy to award This Changes Everything a full 5 out of 5 stars. For anyone looking for a great family drama, you will love this book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a heartfelt story.
Was this review helpful?
If you like a bit of escapism, hidden secrets and plenty of twists and turns, then this is definitely the book for you!

Set partly in the UK and partly in Rome, this is a tale that will keep you hooked from beginning to end as it explores family relationships and hidden secrets that could indeed, threaten to change everything!

The descriptions of Rome are acutely vivid; the sights, sounds, food and wine come to life and provide a blissful escape to somewhere warm and comforting in these times.

The main characters, particularly sisters Annie and Jess, are portrayed in such a way that you almost feel like you are alongside them, experiencing their emotions but also identifying with different aspects of their personalities as they are certainly chalk and cheese in many respects.

It’s difficult to reveal much of the plot without giving away spoilers, but rest-assured, once you pick up this book, you won’t want to put it down!

It’s hard to believe this is debut fiction from the author. I look forward to reading future releases!
Was this review helpful?
This Changes Everything is a wonderful story of love, family, and friendship.  The lead characters are strong women, a mother and her two daughters who go on a journey, finding out more about each other and themselves.  It is heartbreaking yet heart warming and beautifully told.
Was this review helpful?
This is a multigenerational story with strong female characters and a relatable dynamic between the sisters and their mother. Julia's three marriages are a source of despair for her daughters, and they don't want her to make another mistake. Julia has a secret she's never shared with her children and can't resist meeting her first love again.

The sisters are different in personality, and despite loving each other, they don't understand the pressures of their individual lives. There are many poignant moments, particularly in Julia's story, who was a victim of the judgemental morals in the early 1960s.

The real journey is the emotional one all the characters experience both in the past and present.

This proves to be an engaging family drama.

I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
McGinn does an excellent job of creating very likable characters.  The descriptions of the sights and food in Rome made me want to jump on a plane immediately.  The story was overall very happy and perhaps too simple for me.  I would have liked to have seen more conflict or unexpected twists.  It was a pleasant diversion but not a great read for me.
Was this review helpful?
There were two things that particularly drew me to this book. The first was the promise of spending time in Rome – I haven’t visited in a very long time, and the chance to do so from the comfort of my armchair at a time when lounge-to-kitchen is the current limit was irresistible. The second was the focus on an older character in Julia, mother to Annie and Jess – something I always enjoy, although I did worry a little that her daughters felt she (in her 70s) needed to be kept an eye on.

The time in Rome was everything I wanted it to be. The writing allows you to fully experience it along with the characters – the views, the food and drink, the sunshine, all the lesser known sights that I’ve made a note of so I can experience them for real on my next visit. I must admit though, it did take me a while to warm to my travelling companions. I did rather like Annie, although it frustrated me that she’d allowed her artistic ambitions to become buried under the weight of caring for her family: Jess was less easy to like, self-centred, spiky, with sharp edges that made her rather a challenge to sympathise or engage with.

At first, I did find it a bit difficult to get a fix on Julia’s character, but I really enjoyed the exploration of her back story that rather explained the totally understandable reasons why her daughters felt it necessary to make sure she didn’t make any rash decisions (she did have a bit of a track record…) when meeting up with a man she hadn’t been in touch with for 50 years. The family dynamics are well explored – and that’s a theme developed further in the second half of the book, where the focus changes to the journey through the past triggered by the uncovering of some long-hidden secrets during their time in Rome.

I’ve found this quite a difficult book to review – it’s very much a book of two halves, and from the midpoint travels in a direction I really hadn’t expected. It would be wrong of me to say more, but the content is emotional and a little different, an intriguing journey through the past with considerable impact on the present.

I’ll admit it perhaps wasn’t 100% the book for me – but none of us can unreservedly love every book we read (sometimes it’s just wrong time/wrong book). I really do think it would be enjoyed more by a younger reader who could identify more closely with Annie and Jess and their lives. I’d hoped that I’d be able to engage more closely with Julia but, in the present day, she didn’t quite manage to capture my heart – although I was certainly emotionally caught up by her story, and particularly enjoyed her rekindled relationship with Patrick.

The issues raised in that second half of the book were particularly well handled, there were quite a few unexpected twists and turns that kept the pages turning, and I really liked the exploration of those links between past and present. And again, the author shows a really deft touch in capturing location when a large part of the action moves to Cornwall, with the introduction of a few new characters that I really enjoyed. Helen McGinn can certainly tell a good story, and I’d be very happy to try her writing again.

(review copied to Amazon, but link not yet available)
Was this review helpful?
Permanently exhaused mother Annie and her career-driven sister Jess know their own mother Julia too well to not worry when she declares that she's going to meet up with her first love in Rome. Determined to stop a fourth marriage - or at least be there to witness it - they follow her to Rome where secrets are revealed and each must examine her own life and what she wants out of it.

Each of Annie, Jess, and Julia were distinct but relatable in different ways, especially in their creeping fear that they've made the wrong choices in life, brought to a head at a delightful seafood restaurant in Rome.

Rome as Helen McGinn writes it is delightful and enchanting. I loved the description of the architecture, the sights, and the out of the way spots. All brought the city to life beautifully. Having never been there, I now find myself wanting to, hampered only by current circumstances and the constraints of my wallet. I will note that the locals of Rome are not called 'Romani' (that's a completely different people group) but that is easy enough to fix.

Especially at the start, the book does suffer from a bit of headjumping, which makes it difficult to follow, but this seems to die out after the first few chapters (or I got used to it). What's a little harder to read is the intertwining of the three stories as it feels like both Annie and Jess are shortchanged on the screentime. I really expected more about Annie coming to terms with giving up an art career she loved to have a family and would've liked to see more of Jess's story on the page rather than referred to. However I'm glad all came to a happy resolution.

For a slow, sweet novel about life, choices, and how it's never to late to make different ones, pick up this book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley; all opinions are my own
Was this review helpful?
I loved the relationships in this uplifting family drama, and now have the need to go back and explore Rome again. Julia, Jess and Annie are wonderful together and the writing explores their time together before introducing old friends. Their clashes, friction between them and love for eachother felt extremely real and wonderful.
Was this review helpful?
Annie & Jess are sisters who were raised by their mother and a absent father. They love their mother, but she has the tendency to do and jump in before she truly thinks of the consequences of her actions. 
Out of the blue she announces she is going to Rome to meet up with her first love she hasn’t seen in 50 years. Right away to the girls this sets up red flags and fireworks! Plus the girls own private lives needed shaking up so they decided to go keep an eye on their mother and just keep her safe! Well, that’s what they were telling themselves to justify there being overprotective of her. 
Rome is a life changer for all four of the those individuals, but it is about to erupt for so many more left back in the States!

Helen McGinn has written an engaging storyline that is easy to follow, but there are some plot holes that need more cohesiveness. The characters are fun and interesting and actually would do some of the same things in real life! 
For her first attempt at writing this is a fun book to read and I would recommend it to my friends.

I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
Was this review helpful?