Many readers will be familiar with Melbourne authors Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus thanks to their wonderful debut novel, The Book Ninja. The clever pair have now written their third book, another contemporary rom-com with a fun twist. Fancy Meeting You Here has some of the intriguing elements from their stellar debut; however, its execution is not quite as good.
Fancy Meeting You Here stars an aspiring screenwriter named Evie. She is in her thirties and living in London (which may disappoint those readers who loved the Australian references in their previous works). Evie is in a contemplative mood and often finds herself wondering what life might have been like if she had met her celebrity crush, Hugo Hearst, when he was a struggling writer.
After an interview with a clairvoyant Evie is transported back in time, so she contrives to meet and seduce her crush. It’s an interesting albeit manipulative premise for a romance. It certainly has the same kind of ‘what-if’-like questions that the film Sliding Doors depicted. This book contains lots of pop culture, especially film, references. The emphasis is on rom-coms and exploring their tropes, with the authors throwing in a few of their own into the mix.
What ensues is a kind of cautionary tale where Evie is forced to rethink her feelings for the different men in her life. It is breezy and lighthearted. It’s the kind of warm and entertaining book that feels like a panacea to the darkness of covid; even if it is a rather predictable narrative. And if that’s not enough there are more than enough puns in this book for your ongoing amusement (consider that her podcast is called Pasta La Vista, baby!)
Fancy Meeting You Here is a fun look at rewriting history. It’s not going to change your life and it may lack some of the magic pixie dust that classic films like Nothing Hill and Love Actually has but it certainly offers a delightful slice of escapism for a day.
This book is like a sweet slice of chocolate cake, it may not be completely satiating but it is delicious in its own way.