Bestselling Irish author Ahern (There’s No Place Like Here, 2008, etc.) is at it again with a tale of déjà vu via blood transfusions.
The novel opens with Joyce lying at the bottom of her stairs and bleeding, barely conscious but knowing the worst—this fall has cost her her pregnancy. When she wakes in the hospital her dear old dad is there, though husband Conor is away on business and his less-than-prompt return bodes ill for the relationship—in fact, Joyce dispatches with her loveless marriage soon after returning to her childhood home. Loss of her baby (devastating as she’s been trying for years) and imminent divorce (less devastating as Conor, away most of the year on business, will hardly be missed) is not the only upheaval in Joyce’s life. She’s just not quite the same person—she now eats meat, speaks fluent Italian, has a vast knowledge of European art and architecture and, creepiest of all, has someone else’s memories. Little does she know that a month prior, dashing American Justin Hitchcock (you guessed it—visiting lecturer at Trinity College on European art and architecture) donated a pint of his blood, which she received at the emergency room. Over time, the two bump into each other at a hair salon; he sees her on television; he sees her riding a tour bus in London; she sees him at the ballet. At each sighting and ensuing missed opportunity, they feel an inexplicable connection, a kind of love at first sight. Though the reader is certainly expected to root for their romance, the essential relationship of the novel is between Joyce and her aged father. Not only are the two together for most of the novel, their relationship is tender and funny and far more authentic than the rather odd premise of Joyce and Justin’s destiny.
Ahern’s nice comic timing and affectionate portrayal of a father and daughter saves this from becoming just another (slightly weird) chick-lit romance.