The story follows Anna Alessi, a historian who was mercilessly bullied at school for her size but has since become conventionally beautiful and goes on a stream of disastrous internet dates. When she is inadvertently reunited with one of the coolest boys in school, James Fraser, she hides her true identity and battles a torrent of emotions as they are first colleagues and then friends.
This is one of those romantic comedy novels that is utterly predictable – at least most of the time – but it doesn’t matter because you have so much fun along the way.
Anna herself can be annoyingly uptight at times but is also endearingly witty and caring about those she loves. This cast of characters around her are all distinct, well-rounded and often quite quirky characters, which makes hanging out with them is always good fun. Personal favourites are Chris, the blokey fiance of Anna’s sister, Aggy, and Michelle, the larger than life restaurant owner.
James and his best friend Laurence are alternately the villains of the piece, but by the end you will adore one and detest the other… I will say no more.
The crowning jewel of this book is its humour: it is rare for me to actually laugh out loud at a book (since reading happens inwardly I usually laugh inwardly too) but this one got several out of me, often due to the quick banter and play on words between characters. The book is also excellently written, helped I’m sure by Ms McFarlane’s journalistic career.
I haven’t yet read You Had Me At Hello so I can’t compare, but Here’s Looking At You is brilliantly enjoyable in its own right and should only build the author’s reputation.