Book Reviews

Book Review – Do You Remember the First Time by Jenny Colgan (No Spoilers)

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Do You Remember the First Time?

Published 2004 by BCA. Paperback, 306 pages.

Jenny Colgan is one of my favourite authors, and when I saw ‘Do You Remember the First Time’ in a charity shop, I had to pick it up. It had actually been on my bookshelf for a while before I got round to reading it, because I currently acquire books faster than I read them! I chose to start reading this book a few weeks ago on a train journey to London, because it is quite slim so it fit into my bag easily.

What is the book about?

This is the synopsis:

“Life doesn’t have a rewind button. Ever wish it did?

As her best friend Tashy cuts her wedding cake, thirty-two year old Flora realises that her own job, flat and relationship with sensible Olly don’t amount to a whole lot. Surrounded by plans for happy-ever-after, Flora wishes she could turn back the clock and do it all again – first love, first kiss, first drink – but do it right.

The next morning Flora is in shock – and in her teenage bedroom. Overnight, life has become far less complicated – house parties with cider and snogging instead of dull dinner parties;  temporary spots instead of permanent crow’s feet, and a body Britney would kill for. Fun is back in a big way.

But it’s not all laughs. One of the things that went wrong first time around was her parents’ marriage. The other was her first love. Can Flora right these wrongs now she’s been given a second chance? Will life ever be the same again?”

Did I enjoy the book?

The idea of Flora going back to being sixteen again immediately captured my interest, and I knew this would be a fun book to read! I was right – it was full of laughs, with plenty of suspense! I kept wanting to read another chapter to find out what would happen next. It had a poignant side too, and there were plenty of morals to be gained from this story.

All the characters were likeable – I don’t think there was a single character I disliked! I found myself really caring about the characters and their feelings. 

It becomes clear as the story progresses that the ending is going to go one way or another, and it keeps you guessing. I kept changing my mind about what I thought was going to happen, although I knew what I hoped would happen! I won’t give anything away about the actual ending. 

This is one of Jenny Colgan’s earlier books, and you can tell that her writing style is not quite as polished as it is in her later books. I had to re-read some parts twice to understand what was happening. The time travel aspects of the plot don’t totally make sense, and it is certainly not a realistic story, but that’s not the point. It is meant to be a light-hearted read, and it doesn’t matter that it is unrealistic. 

There are also some parts of the story that could be seen as inappropriate when looked at in certain ways, but I think it’s okay not to take this book too seriously, because it is not something that would happen in real life after all!

A blast from the past

I realised that 2019 is a unique year to be reading this book! The story is set in 2003, which is 16 years ago. This confused me a little, because Flora has got 16 years younger, so she is her 1987 self (which seems so long ago!) but I had too keep reminding myself that 2003 is still the present day for her, even if it is 16 years ago for me!

There are quite a lot of pop culture references in the book, from the early 2000s, some of which went right over my head! It is also quite outdated, for example, the characters fashion sense is very different from what todays teenagers would wear, but I have to remind myself that it was fashionable at the time the book was written! Also, mobile phones were a lot more basic back then, so there are references to emails and phone calls but not texting. These things didn’t detract from the story though – in fact I found them quite interesting and nostalgic!

Although Flora’s experience of being sixteen is very different from mine was, it still made me wish I could go back to being sixteen too, and join in the fun that the teenagers have! It also made me think about what I would do differently in my life if I could start again from age sixteen.

Would I recommend this book

I would absolutely recommend this book! It is a fairly short read compared to most of Jenny Colgan’s other books, so if you are looking for a quick summer read, or a book to take travelling with you, then this would be perfect. I would give this book a 4 out of 5.

You can purchase this book on Amazon UK here.

I would give this book 4 out of 5!

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