TITLE : Before I saw You
AUTHOR : Emily Houghton
GENRE : Romance, Women’s Fiction, Chick-lit
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐( 4 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : 4 Feb 2021
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley, Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, and Bantam Press for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton is one of the sweetest romance novels I have read in a while. I have been reading so many Historical Fiction lately that it has been tearing my heart out and leaving me melancholic afterward. Not that I am complaining.. But this one was a welcome change.. It tells us the story of two people who fall in love as they are recuperating in the hospital from life-threatening accidents. Life brings them joy and love in unsuspecting and unexpected places. Who would imagine love is possible while in recovery at the hospital, without even seeing each other?? Not me!! But that is exactly what happens to Alfie Mack and Alice Gunnersley.
Alfie Mack has been in recovery at the hospital for quite some time, and he is the resident jokester, the life of the party, the outgoing, and the cheerful guy everyone wants to be around. His job was to keep all of the residents in the hospital ward happy and upbeat. He also likes to help them with their recovery process by keeping the morale high in the ward. Everyone adores him and saying he is the star of the recovery ward will not be an exaggeration. In comes Alice Gunnersley, the career-oriented and introverted lady who is recovering from burns. She was in an office fire and got lucky to be alive at all. With severe burns throughout half of her body, she is traumatized by her experience and refuses to speak or see herself. Alice is the exact opposite of Alfie in every sense. She is anti-social and has no friends at work, or she assumes as such. She has walls built around herself as a protective mechanism. The two get acquainted as a result of their beds being close to one another. With late-night conversations and puzzles paving the way for their friendship, they fall in love with one another eventually. Can Alice let Alfie into her life, when all she wants to do is never leave the bed and forget about everything? That really is the question of the day!!
Everything about this story was just so good. I loved all the characters and their relationships. Most of them had great dynamics, and the interactions were fun, entertaining, and full of joy. The camaraderie in the ward is something to be around. The overall atmosphere in the hospital is not something you would see normally. It was a highlight for me in this story. Charming, is the word that comes to mind when I think of the story.
The book is slower-paced, taking time to establish the setting, characters, and also relationships. The author does take her time in developing the perfect setting for a love story to flourish. I loved that about this book. I didn’t mind the pacing or the slow growth of the relationship. The story is focused on building an emotional connection rather than on a physical bond. It is rare in today’s day and age to see the focus on the emotional side of relationships alone in most books. Usually, we have a mix of both in stories, but here it’s only the personal connection that gets the focus. If you are looking for steam, you will be disappointed. I do think, despite the lack of anything physical, it still fills your heart with joy to see the two fall in love and trying to be low-key about it.
The in-depth backstories and other elements added to a very well-rounded character arc, which I am very happy about. The way the story ended made me so mad. It was so abrupt I was confused. I kept turning the pages of the book in hopes that I might have missed another chapter, and the story didn’t just end like that. I was also confused at times when things got a bit repetitive, and timings of certain events happening were a bit jumbled up in my mind. There were moments when a certain moment would happen, and then the character would be talking about it as if it was some days before. These were confusing. So these are the negatives when it comes to the novel.
Let’s just say the ending and the above-mentioned instances, make it difficult for me to give it a full rating, and even though I am disappointed, I don’t think I can rate it less than 4 stars. I have given the book 4 stars, and I wish the ending was written differently. I would have loved seeing the two in the future to see how their relationship progressed. Maybe, that’s just me. But if you love slow-paced and slow-burn books with excellent focus on characters, you will love this book. I recommend checking it out and decide for yourself if it’s the right book for you. I really enjoyed this charming story about Alfie and Alice.
CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.
Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbor’s face won’t happen any time soon.
Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?