Originally published: 23 Apr 2020
Author: Robert Webb
Published by: Canongate
Length: 304 pages
Reading dates: 3-6 May 2020
Having read Robert Webb’s memoir How Not to Be a Boy last year for book club, I was keen to read his first fictional offering! Luckily for me, the wonderful guys over at Tandem Collective selected me to take place in the readalong. Tandem Collective always go the extra mile with readalongs, and include prompt cards throughout the book to make you think about what you have just read and I really like this about them!
Anyway, the book! As the book starts we meet Kate, whose husband Luke has just died of a brain tumour. They’d been together since University (28 years) and Kate is not handling it well. When she finds out the tumour had been in his head for a long, long time and they both missed the symptoms, she understandably feels immense guilt. She is pushing away her friends and family, drinking heavily and has about planned her suicide.
But then she wakes up in the wrong room in her 18 year old body! She has returned to 1992, the first day of her life at York University and the day she meets Luke. She decides she has to somehow convince him he has a brain tumour and to get checked out and thus save his life. But Luke is not her husband, the man she lost. He is still an annoying 19 year old English student. She has no idea how long she will be back in 1992 but she is determined for them to fall in love again to try and save his life. She just needs to do everything exactly the same as last time!
The Sunday Times describe Come Again as
“a genre-defying time-travel tale – part adventure, part love story, part comedy, part dissertation on bereavement…a breathtakingly insightful evocation of grief.”
It was certainly like nothing else I have ever read before and I loved it. Broken into 3 different sections, I loved how we go from Kate’s grief, to a nostalgic trip back to the early 90s, to being chased through the streets of London by Russian mobsters!
Kate as a character is great. I completely felt her despair at being expected to carry on after loosing Luke but just wanting it to end. As a teenager she was a karate champion and exceptionally bright. As an adult, she works with computers and still has a sharp mind. I like her dark humour and narration. And I adored it when she woke up as a student in 1992, because that is when I was starting Uni too and I could recognise so many of her observations! When reading about that time, it makes you realise how much has changed – most noticeably the lack of internet, Facebook and mobile phones!
It also made me think. If I was to go back to that time (with my 47 year old brain inside my 18 year old head) would I do things differently? I’m certainly a very different person to how I was then – would I make the same decisions? I met my husband at Uni (we met on the first day much like Kate and Luke) and I wouldn’t change that but there are some things I would do differently. I’d do it so much better if I had another chance!
A darkly humorous read, I loved each and every bit of this book! Romantic, sad, exciting, ambitious! I really look forward to see what Webb writes next!
About the author:
Robert Webb is best known for his work as the Webb half of Mitchell & Webb in the Sony award-winning That Mitchell & Webb Sound and the Bafta award-winning That Mitchell & Webb Look, and as permanent man-boy Jeremy in the acclaimed Peep Show. How Not To Be a Boy was a number one Sunday Times bestseller. Robert has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the New Statesman, and now lives in London with his wife and daughters.