Desert Isle Keeper
Whether you like Come Together will come down in large part to how much you like books like Bridget Jones’ Diary and Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married. Like these books, Come Together features the trials and tribulations of modern-day London singletons trying to find their way toward couplehood, told in the first person with frequently humorous commentary. I loved both Bridget and Lucy, and I loved Amy and Jack, the protagonists of Come Together.
Amy Crosbie is very much a Bridget Jones clone, with perhaps less ditziness and a bit more emotional depth. She meets Jack, and immediately tanks her chances with him by confessing drunkenly that she was really after his roommate, Matt. It’s hard for either of them to forget the good time they were having up to that point, though, and eventually they end up going on a date – and then another – and before too long “Jack the Lad” has become Jack-the-boyfriend. Where Come Together departs from the other books in this odd new genre, though, is in including the male viewpoint of Jack, who in some ways turns out to be as full of self-doubt and relationship angst as Amy. The two authors, Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd, wrote alternating chapters, switching first-person narrators between Jack and Amy.
Though I had my doubts about this seemingly gimmicky approach, within the first few pages I was hooked. I think I preferred the Amy-narrated chapters just a bit more, but perhaps that was because I identified with her better. Rees has a more difficult job, though, because Jack spends the first part of the book as a relentless operator, constantly engineering the next one-night hookup, making him harder for a female reader to like. But somehow I did anyway; I felt sorry for the big lunk, sandbagged as he is by the shocking realization that he wants to see Amy for more than her “fantastic tits.” (And yes, that word and other indelicate ones are used throughout, which I found realistic but other readers might find offensive.)
Both characters felt believable and three-dimensional to me. There were moments when I wanted to shake both of them, and moments when I wanted to comfort them. After a while I felt like one of the secondary characters around them, who alternately cheer on and warn the characters off the relationship. The authors’ styles complement each other nicely; both get off some excellent comedic moments, as well as very emotional ones.
And yes, this is one of those books that it’s best to be circumspect about reading in quiet public places, as there will be parts that make you laugh out loud. For example, there’s this conversational exchange between Amy and her best mate Helen, the morning after Amy met Jack:
H: (sleepily) Hmmm?
Me: (a pause, just so she’ll know it’s me) Blachhhhhhhhh! (I inject this greeting with as much postpuking throaty misery as I can muster)
H: Blachh-blachh-blachh? Or just blachh?
H: I’ll be right over.
I love H. She understands me.
Other parts will have you groaning in anticipation of a bad outcome, like when Jack (who still has Amy believing he is a well-off successful artist instead of a slacker with a part-time gallery job who paints on the side) books the cheapest holiday possible in Greece. You just know they are going to end up in a gulag of a vacation resort, and you are right. The way this turns out, though, is much better, and much worse, than I had expected. In fact, much of the book’s plot was suspenseful: when is the other person going to find out about this or that sticky situation or exaggeration of the truth? Are they going to blow it?
Readers who prefer strict adherence to the rules of genre romance might have some problems with this book, as it is very contemporary. The authenticity of the male viewpoint, with its preoccupation on scoring and breasts doesn’t make Jack the most appealing or heroic character; however for me that made his realizations about the deepening level of emotional attraction to Amy all the sweeter. (Of course, being female, I can only say that his reactions seemed authentic; I would love to have a heterosexual male’s perspective on this book.)
And while the book ends on a positive note, it’s hard to call it a happily-ever-after. It’s more like the characters have successfully navigated the end of the beginning. While it’s a satisfying ending and a hopeful one, I see many more hurdles for Amy and Jack down the road. But that’s not bad news: that just leaves the door open for a sequel.
The timing of this reissue of this novel is perfect – this is beach reading par excellence, a book to be devoured in a day or two, giggled and sighed over, and then passed along to a best mate