Title: Somewhere Only We Know
Author: Erin Lawless
Publisher: Harlequin Impulse
Publication Date: 11 June 2015 (Kindle); 16 July 2015 (paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Boy meets girl…
Alex Bradley can’t help but feel that life is rather passing him by. And not just life – promotions, invitations, romance; the girl he loves only has eyes for his flatmate and his 9-5 job as the Immigration department skivvy is slowly numbing his soul. Until he meets Nadia.
Girl meets boy…
Nadia Osipova is running out of time. With no money, no lawyer and a totally fictitious boyfriend, she’s got one last summer and one last appeal before the British government deport her back home.
Girl gets deported?
It’s going to be a bumpy ride, one she’s dragging her new friend Alex along for. As Nadia races through a list of all her favourite London adventures, for what may be the last time, Alex can’t help but start to see the city, and his life, through Nadia’s eyes.
From hazy summer days on the Common and heady nights in Soho’s basement bars, to twilight walks along the Southbank, will Alex realise what he’s got before it’s too late?
Funny, addictive and always honest, this is a love letter to London, friendship and the unexpected from the author of the bestselling The Best Thing I Never Had.
You may already have read my Q&A with author, Erin Lawless, back on 11 June 2015. If not, you’ll find the link here. If you have either read Somewhere Only We Know or are interested in reading it, I’d urge you to check out my earlier post as it gives some insight into the author’s thoughts behind this fantastic book.
Somewhere Only We Know follows the friendship of Alex and Nadia.
Alex works in a boring clerical position at the Immigration Department at the Home Office. He sees visa application forms all day long and one blurs into the next, until he receives a form that just seems different to the rest. It grabs his attention, being “mildly insane”, and he can feel the personality emanating from the paper. Rather than rejecting the application out of hand, Alex rejects it with detailed instructions on how to appeal the rejection. From this point onwards, he has no say in whether the application is approved or not.
Nadia (Nadezhda Osipova) was born in Russia but has lived in the UK since she was shipped off to boarding school at the age of 11. Now, at the age of 26, she is at risk of being deported to a country that she no longer sees as her home. After applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, Nadia is awaiting a decision on her application.
Coincidentally, Alex and Nadia find themselves thrown together in a pub quiz and instantly ‘click’. Personality-wise, they could not be more different. Nadia is fun, care free, fearless, headstrong and always laughing. She has an insatiable thirst for life and a love of new experiences. Alex is much more serious and thoughtful, one of life’s natural worriers. However, the differences in their personalities seem to complement each other.
During a second impromptu meeting, after listening to Alex bemoan how life is passing him by, Nadia puts a proposition to Alex. She suggests that she becomes Alex’s ‘life guru’, forcing him to expand his horizons slightly and try new things, have new experiences and meet new people. She wants to show him that there is a much bigger world out there that he has yet to experience. This ties in perfectly with her own plan to re-visit all of her favourite London experiences and create new memories before she may be forced to exit the country. Alex is persuaded to take a chance and agrees to Nadia’s plan. And so, their adventures begin…
As Nadia and Alex jump from one experience to the next, they quickly develop an easy going friendship and enjoy the time they spend together. Whilst their friendship remains platonic, is seems obvious to their friends that there is potentially more to their friendship that they may have realised. However, with Nadia’s appeal date fast approaching, should Nadia and Alex be sensible and avoid getting involved in a new relationship or should they be making the most of the time she has left?
The supporting characters are all realistic, relatable and great fun. Alex’s hunky flatmate Rory is dating the girl of Alex’s dreams, Lila Palmer. Can Nadia take Alex’s mind off his obsession with Lila? Nadia’s best friends, Holly and Caro (and Caro’s cousin, Ledge), are in denial about Nadia’s potential deportation, refusing to face up to the fact that she may be leaving.
Somewhere Only We Know is not only a tale of romance between characters, but also a romance with one of my favourite cities – London. I loved the setting for this book! I’m a big fan of London and tend to visit quite regularly. Reading Somewhere Only We Know reminded me of the joys of exploring the city and falling in love with all its little quirks and eccentricities. There is an endless supply of interesting characters, hidden places, new foods etc… I often wonder how tourists see London and how it differs in their eyes’ to my own.
Somewhere Only We Knowis a tale of friendships, relationships and finding joy in life. It also raises the controversial issue of citizenship and immigration, from the point of view of someone who has been in the country since childhood and thinks of it as her home. Is it really fair to make Nadia return to a country that she doesn’t know and that she doesn’t consider to be her home? As a reader, I really wanted to know how things would turn out for Nadia and Alex, however the author really keeps you guessing until the very end.
I really did enjoy Somewhere Only We Knowvery much. It is quite a thought-provoking tale, reminding the reader to make the most of the people around them, to really experience life and create new memories, because you don’t know when or if that freedom could be taken away from you. We are taught that it is better to be someone who believes that dreams can possibly come true, rather than someone who simply accepts that they can’t.
Amazon UK – Kindle | Paperback
Amazon US – Paperback
About The Author
You’d probably like Erin Lawless; she’s quite nice.
She lives a happy life full of wonderful friends, in love with a man who buys her books instead of flowers. To mix things up a little, she write books where friends and lovers hit obstacles and (usually) overcome them. When she’s not doing that she’s reading absolutely everything she can get her hands on, spending an inordinate amount of time in pyjamas and running a fun-but-informative blog on British history.