Opening sentence: “She woke with her mouth forming a single word. ‘You'”.
If you’re looking for a book where you will never-ever second guess what’s going to happen next, then actor and comedian Robert Webb’s debut novel, Come Again, is the one for you. I don’t think I’ve read a book that takes me down so many genre paths in 300 pages!
And how to describe the genres? Well, we have a delicate and emotional story of a grieving, depressed widow that then takes a time-travelling twist, segues into an espionage thriller and has an ending that leaves you pondering.
So what’s the story?
When 45-year-old Kate Marsden looses her husband, Luke, her whole world crumbles. She is planning her suicide when she suddenly finds herself transported back in time to the exact moment she first met her husband. She is being given an opportunity to rewrite the course of her life – but will she? And that’s only half the story…
This was Fresher’s Week, October 1992. This wasn’t Day 10,000. This was Day 1.
Kate’s intriguing job at an online reputation management company (‘Her job was to rewrite history.‘) gives a great opportunity for Webb to make cutting references about today’s digital fake culture and the rich, privileged people who think they can dictate their own narrative of events (loved the sly Prince Andrew reference too!). Kate’s job also provides the high-octane second half to the narrative when she discovers some seriously shady happenings by her boss and has to do something about it.
Come Again is wonderfully written. It has some lovely turn of phrase, (‘the twenty-eight-year conversation was a few hours old’) which makes it a delight to read and clever repetition draws the story threads together, such as a version of the opening sentence that appears later: ‘She woke with her mouth forming a single word. ‘Shit.”
The Celebrity Novelist
It’s always interesting when celebrities write books – are they just jumping on a bandwagon or are they a great novelist too, alongside their day job? With Robert Webb, it’s very much the latter. If I read fiction by a celebrity, it is 100% swayed by if I like them as a person. Hence why I’ve read novels by Graham Norton and Ruth Jones and why I picked up this book.
Robert Webb’s memoir, How Not to be a Boy, is one of my favourite celeb bios, his unique tone of voice comes across loud and clear throughout and I could hear that same voice in Come Again‘s story. This immediately endeared me to the book. From his political views to his thoughts on gender identity (that he explored in his memoir) it felt like there were a lot of autobiographical points in Come Again, which made it even more enjoyable for me.
Exciting, clever, funny and with a lot of insightful observations, Come Again is not the book I thought it was going to be. But I mean that in the best way possible. Kate is a great character, we go through so much with her and she feels so real. I’d happily read the next instalment of Kate’s life. And while, yes, the narrative does mean you have to suspend your disbelief at points, just go with the flow; let yourself get swept up in the story and you’ll finish feeling both heart-warmed and exhilarated.
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Published by Canongate 23rd April 2020;
- 304 pages;
- My rating: