Do You Remember The First Time?
by Jenny Colgan
Sunday, January 8, 2023
Once again I was just looking for something mindlessly light to read for a few days to take my mind off other things and this looked both light and kind of silly. Flora is thirty-two years old and at her best friend’s wedding. She’s not exactly having the best time. Her boyfriend is trying to propose to her and she’s not sure about that. So she makes a wish that she could be sixteen again and it comes true… Yes, quite silly but it also makes the story kind of interesting.
Firstly, the book is a few years old now and that happens to make it set exactly when I was thirty-two myself (I’m pretty certain Jenny Colgan is much the same age as me too) and the character’s frame of reference for going back to being sixteen is also much the same as mine. Except the character and various other members of her family have just had sixteen years knocked off their ages but are still in the same time as the thirty-two year olds. I mean, it really makes minimal sense but it’s a fun story. Flora is trying to figure out how to get back to her own age, or if she even wants to. She’s also messing with other people’s lives. Her parents haven’t been happy since they divorced so she is trying to get them to stay together. There’s a plotline involving the baby brother of her teenage boyfriend who is now the same age as her which ought to be hideous but somehow I think it worked out ok. And then there’s a major problem that her best friend doesn’t actually want to get married very much but thinks she better go through with it so Flora has a chance of reversing her wish.
There are things I didn’t like - a lot of emphasis on how thin sixteen year olds are and awful diet advice - I hope those are just a bit dated and wouldn’t get into a book these days. And perhaps I just missed the humour they were shared in, I know I don’t always see the funny side of stuff in books that’s obvious to others. I mean the whole book is clearly silly, but there are always interesting things to be found under the humour. And here the message is definitely about doing what you want with your own life and not what others expect of you. The timeline gets so messed up that the loose ends are never going to get tied up so I can’t really complain about that. It was a fun read even if it made me think too much and mainly made me glad it just fiction after all!