Originally published: 9 June 2022
Author: James Bailey
Published by: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 14-16 June 2022
Three friends. Two summers. One chance to find the way back to you . . .
When Simon reconnects with his first love Sylvie – the French pen pal he never met – he is determined to not let her go again.
However, life isn’t so straight-forward at sixty as it was at sixteen. His daughter’s getting married, he’s got a B&B to run, and his larger-than-life school friend, Ian, has abruptly waltzed back into his life.
Deciding to seize this second chance, Simon sets off on a bike ride from Bristol to Bordeaux with Ian in tow, on the very same route they covered as teenagers in pursuit of love.
But although they now have better bikes, more acceptable haircuts, and Google Maps, some things never change, and it soon becomes clear that this trip will have even more bumps in the road than the first . . .
Widower Simon runs a lovely sounding B&B in Dorset with his daughter Anna and is thinking about his future when he hears an old school friend has died. Reminiscing about his school days in a boarding school in Bristol, he fondly remembers the adventures he got up to with his friends and his French pen pal Sylvie.
He reconnects with one school friend Ian (a David Bowie tribute act) at the funeral and Ian decides they should relive their teen years, embarking on a trip to France by bike to spread their friends’ ashes in a place he loved. Buying themselves new bikes and Lycra cycling clothing, they set off, aiming to cycle to Bordeaux, despite neither having ridden a bike for quite some time!
I loved Simon and Ian’s adventures! As well as a physical journey, both men go on an emotional journey. Simon is still mourning the loss of his wife Caroline and is debating his future running the B&B which she loved so much. There are plenty of amusing incidents along the way and I really enjoyed following male characters for a change.
As well as their current trip to France, we also hear from teenage Simon who embarked on a similar journey with his school friends and it made me think what a lovely memory to have of your school days, even if it didn’t all go according to plan!
The Way Back to You is a gentle romantic comedy that was quick and fun to read. It did make me think how I enjoyed reading a book about older characters – often the books I read like this are about women in their late 20’s and early 30’s and much to my horror, I realised that I’m closer in age to Ian and Simon! A fast summery read, which I really enjoyed.
Thank you to Kallie and Michael Joseph for inviting me on the tour sending me a proof copy of the book. Take a look at the other great bloggers talking about this book below.
About the author:
James Bailey was born in Bristol, and currently lives and works in his home city. A graduate of King’s College London, James has previously carried the Olympic Torch, made a speech at the House of Commons, and worked as a red-carpet reporter. The Way Back To You is his second novel. His debut, The Flip Side, has been published in eleven languages and optioned for TV.