Review: Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac


Title: Messy, Wonderful Us

Author: Catherine Isaac

Published: June 1st 2019, Simon & Schuster UK

Status: Read May 2019 courtesy Simon & Schuster AU


My Thoughts:

Unfolding from the viewpoints of Allie, Ed and an unnamed girl, (whose chapters are italicised) that is speaking of the past, as the present, Messy, Wonderful Us is a touching tale of friendship, love, regret, and second chances.

Allie and Ed have been friends since adolescence, and remain so in their early thirties, despite periods of both physical and emotional distance.

Allie, an academic research scientist, who lost her mother as a young girl to cancer, is devastated when she finds a photograph that seems to suggest her beloved Dad, Joe, may not be her father. When Allie’s grandmother refuses to assuage her suspicions, Allie decides to find answers for herself, arranging a trip to Italy in search of the man who shares the gap between her front teeth.

Ed, a successful business owner, shocks everyone when he leaves his wife of two years, offering nothing but the vaguest of explanations. Julia, unwilling to accept her husband’s decision, begs Allie for her help, and so Allie allows Ed to join her on her quest.

As Allie, urged on by Ed, crisscrosses Italy in search of answers about her past, the pair are forced to face some uncomfortable truths and make some difficult decisions.

Ed and Julia’s supposedly blissful marriage is not what it seems, exactly why, he is reluctant to admit. Isaac treats the secret with sensitivity, and I thought the reversal of perspective of an oft used trope was examined in a thought-provoking manner.

Allie is rocked by the answer to her questions, but it’s the time spent with Ed that has the greatest effect on her life. To be honest, I found Allie a little insipid, she’s generally not very decisive and I have to admit I was disappointed somewhat by one element of the ending. Perhaps it’s petty of me, but I didn’t feel Allie, and therefore Isaac, made the right decision.

That said, I do like Ed and Allie together, though their situation is messy, Issac hits the right notes with their relationship, making it seem genuine. I also really appreciated the epilogue of sorts.

Messy, Wonderful Us is a likeable novel, and though I wasn’t wowed by it, I did find aspects of it thought provoking and engaging.


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