Hall of Fame Review: My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

Monday 20 June 2016
Title: My Map of You
Author: Isabelle Broom
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 21st April 2016
Pages: 420
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Holly Wright has had a difficult few years. After her mother's death, she's become expert at keeping people at a distance - including her boyfriend, Rupert.

But when Holly receives an unexpected letter explaining that an aunt she never met has left her a house on the Greek island of Zakynthos, the walls she has built begin to crumble. Arriving on the island, Holly meets the handsome Aidan and slowly begins to uncover the truth about the secret which tore her family apart.

But is the island where Holly really belongs? Or will her real life catch up with her first?

I know some authors dislike their books being classed as Women's Fiction but it is a genre and it's one that I have read hundreds of books from over the years and so I like to think I know something special when I read it. My Map of You is without doubt one of the best books that I have ever read from this genre, and I want to say that it's the best I've ever read but I'm still in that euphoric state of happiness after finishing such a perfect book that I can't make that decision just yet. My Map of You will certainly be one of my Books of the Year come December and it is one that I will be recommending to anyone who will listen.

My favourite place in the whole world is Cyprus, and Zakynthos, where the majority of My Map of You takes place, isn't all that dissimilar to Cyprus and so it was already very easy for me to visualise this setting, but Isabelle Broom has written the perfect love letter to Zakynthos and I actually finished this book feeling like I had been on holiday there myself. Everything has just been captured so beautifully and effortlessly that the book was just a joy to read and as Holly, our main character, began to explore her new surroundings, so to did I. Greek culture is just my absolute favourite. From the warm welcome received by the locals to the delicious food and drink, to everything that there is to explore, it's just one of the best in the world. I am already salivating thinking of all the Greek food and drink I'll be devouring over in Cyprus very soon. There's just no better place on Earth and even though My Map of You isn't set in Cyprus, Zakynthos just sounds like paradise and I so want to visit. Just like there are parts of Cyprus for those who prefer to party and make an idiot of themselves, there are also similar places on the island of Zakynthos and Holly reluctantly gets to sample some of these delights for herself. But, luckily, most of the book does take place at the more beautiful parts of the island and this book really was just such a joy to read.

Holly has headed to Zakynthos alone, leaving her idiotic (or so I thought) boyfriend Rupert back at home. Holly has found out that an auntie she has never met has left her a house on Zakynthos and when she arrives at the house she soon discovers that there's so much about her family that she didn't know and she sets out to find out the truth about a secret that tore her family apart, with the help of her easy on the eye neighbour Aidan, who soon has Holly questioning everything that she left behind at home when she nervously stepped on the plane to Zakynthos. One of my favourite things about My Map of You was exploring the island with Holly with a map that she found that had places marked on that were special to her mum and auntie. Holly visits all of the places with the hope that she will find the answers that she so desperately wants and there are some incredibly bittersweet, emotional, and just really lovely moments as she attempts to do that, with the help of Aidan. I just completely fell in love with these two characters and their friendship and relationship as it progressed was so believable before the inevitable (and obvious) curveball was thrown in the way partway through the story. I annoyingly had to stop reading at a crucial point in the story and I spent the whole of the next day counting down the minutes until I could continue reading.

I think some people might take a while to really like Holly but I have to say that I liked her pretty much straightaway. I think it's because I found myself relating to her at times, not in how she didn't have any family, but more in the point that she was at in her life. And as she was a pretty closed off person at first, it was enjoyable to watch her start to come out of her shell and flourish on the island and discover who and what she really wanted to be. I've always found that it's easier to make big decisions (or feel like you can make them) and to feel like anything is possible when you are on holiday and in terms of character development from the start to finish of a novel, Holly's was probably one of my favourites that I've ever read. She does make some silly decisions at times, but this just helped me visualise her more as a real person, and also had me wanting to shout at my Kindle for her to make the right choices. She was just such a fantastic character to read about though and all through the book I wanted her to find that happiness that she craved. Even when she made some rather stupid decisions I didn't even judge her too much. But, I think that was pretty easy because of how silly I found some of the other characters.

I truly loved how maps played their role in Holly's discovery of the island. I found it easier to invest in the lives of the characters, and Holly and Aidan were so well drawn (and suited) that their story didn't even feel fictional at times. They felt like real people, and it was as if I was reading someone's real life story. I too felt a connection to Holly's auntie and mum because we read letters throughout the book which give away details about what led to them drifting apart. I did half work out what was going to be revealed about the sisters but the other half completely took me by surprise, and there are some really wonderful scenes as the book nears its conclusion (but not without plenty of drama beforehand!). The characters in this book, both the main and secondary, are so memorable that I'll remember them for a long time yet, and this is a book that I will read again and again, in fact, I already want to. The relationships and the friendships all just feel so natural, and this isn't one of those completely predictable reads because even though I had an idea in my head of where I wanted the story to go, I honestly thought Isabelle was going to take it somewhere else! I was so nervous reading the last parts of this book.

I always say this about books that I've loved but, especially recently with what's happened personally, reading is my escape. The reviews on my blog are now all mostly positive because they are only of books that I have read and enjoyed. I have a few hours each week to read books and I want to spend them reading books that I've enjoyed, not finishing a rubbish book and then reviewing it just so I look more like an authentic blogger (whatever one of those is). My blog is a place for me to tell people about books that I've loved, and I always hope that one of my reviews can help somebody choose their next book. My Hall of Fame was set up for those books that are that little bit more special than the rest, and if a book is in my Hall of Fame then you can be sure that I have truly loved it. My Map of You is a book that I honestly cannot recommend enough, it's rare to be able to describe a book as perfect, but, to me, that's what this book was. I just devoured it from start to finish, and never wanted it to end. Oh, and don't even get me started on that ending. Quite possibly one of my favourites that I've ever read in a book. I am fashionably late to the party with reading My Map of You and if you haven't read it yet, then I highly recommend that you do. I cannot wait to see what Isabelle writes next.

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