Simsion makes a clear departure from the world of The Rosie Project (2013) and provides a soundtrack to this story of love in two parts.
Adam Sharp usually reserves reminiscing about his stint as an IT consultant in Melbourne for when he’s listening to sad songs of lost love. But a one-word email from his ex-lover is powerful enough motivation to get him questioning his choices over the last 22 years. When “hi” hits his inbox, Adam is living a life of routine in England. His long-term relationship with fellow IT professional Claire is more friendly than passionate but extremely functional. Gone are the days where he is regularly behind a piano, singing to—or with—a girl. For Adam, that girl is Angelina Brown, who walked up to him at the piano in 1989 with mascara running down her cheek and asked if he could play “Because the Night.” He ended by singing out to the man who pulled her away, whom he later discovers to be Angelina’s husband, with “a Lennon–McCartney send-off. ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.' " The first half of the novel is devoted to Adam’s affair with the young, up-and-coming actress, with music playing an essential role in their connection—something they’ll never share with anyone else. Though “in the end it was [he] who lost the girl.” Back in the present, the email exchange turns from playful to life-changing when Angelina invites Adam to stay with her in France. The consequences of reconnecting take on the physical form of Angelina’s husband, Charlie, who reveals himself as an active player in this charade. Their week in France is a complicated unfolding that feels like its own book, a midlife crisis that develops in real time during which Adam's and Angelina’s versions of the past collide. With a piano serving as their medium, they must reconcile the 20-something versions of themselves with the people now sipping on 1966 Château Margaux.
A strong reminder of just how affecting nostalgia can be, but Part 2 of this love story is out of tune with its beginning.