When Simon reconnects on Facebook with first love Sylvie – the French pen pal he never actually met all those decades ago – he is determined that things will be different.
Together with old school friend, Ian, he sets off on a bike ride from Bristol to Bordeaux, the same route they covered as teenagers in pursuit of love.
But although Simon and Ian have better bikes, more acceptable haircuts and Google Maps, some things never change. And the road to true love is as bumpy as those country lanes.
Is it ever too late to fulfil your dreams? And will Simon finally meet Sylvie?
Many thanks to Kallie at the publishers for inviting me to be involved in this blog tour and providing me with a proof copy of the book.
This was a light and entertaining read with some strong and positive messages at its core. Told in a then and now format, this story is about Simon, who recreates his rebellious and impassioned bike ride through France that he did at 16, as he hits 60. Decided on a whim with his old school friend Ian, for very special reasons that I won’t reveal here, the pair head off on a journey of discovery, a journey where they mostly find themselves.
Engagingly written with short chapters alternating between the legendary bike ride the boys did as teens and the current day. I particularly liked the parallels between the two trips, the mishaps and events which the author cleverly factored into both trips and told in adjacent chapters. Both journeys were entertaining and featured learning for the travellers and I think I enjoyed both aspects of the story equally, however Simon in the present day had a tender story whereby he reflected on his life and made some momentous decisions along the way.
The characters were well developed, especially Simon who had a steady life running a B&B with his daughter, his life was comfortable and this made his trip all the more significant.
This was a very quick read for me and a book that I enjoyed. It’s a lovely piece of contemporary fiction, about life, about loss, about relationships and about love and as I mentioned previously it has some important messages at its heart. It was pleasing to see this book was written by a man and while I think this book would appeal to readers regardless of gender, I suspect this book would traditionally fall into the ‘chick-lit’ genre – a term I neither use or like, but all worthy of comment here.
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 in the House of Commons and worked as a red carpet reporter. The Flip Side was his debut novel.
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