You Me Everything (Isaac)

You Me Everything 
Catherine Isaac, 2018
Penguin Publishing
368 pp.

Set in the French countryside on an idyllic summer vacation, a delicious, tender novel about finding joy and love even in the most unexpected places.

Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Chateau de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne.

There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend—and William’s father—Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Lush gardens, a gorgeous pool, delectable French food, and a seemingly never-ending wine list—what’s not to like? 

Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam fall in love with his own son.
But Adam has other ideas, and another girlfriend—and he doesn’t seem inclined to change the habits of a lifetime just because Jess and William have appeared on the scene. Jess isn’t surprised, yet William—who has quickly come to idolize his father—wants nothing more than to spend time with him.

But Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down—because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody—especially William—must discover.

By turns heartwrenching and hopeful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman's fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Aka—Jane Costello
Where—Liverpool, England, UK
Education—University of Liverpool; Glasgow Caledonian University
Currently—lives in Liverpool, England

Catherine Isaac (a pseudonym for Jane Costello, which is also a pseudonym) is a British novelist born in Liverpool, England. Isaac/Costello studied History at the University of Liverpool and Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University. She began her journalism career as trainee reporter at the Liverpool Echo, eventually rising to position of editor at the Liverpool Daily Post.

As Jane Costello, she wrote and published her first book, Bridesmaids, while on maternity leave in 2008. That novel and the next nine were all written as Jane Costello, and all became Sunday Times best-sellers in the UK.

You Me Everything, published in 2018, is her first book writing as Catherine Isaac, a pseudonym comprised of her middle name and her son Isaac's name. She explains the new pseudonym on her website:

It immediately felt different from my previous books and dealt with a subject that was bigger and more important than anything I'd tackled before.

Costello lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three sons. (Adapted from the publisher.)

Book Reviews
Equal parts wry comedy and touching family drama, it’s ultimately a heartbreaker that’ll stay with you long after you’re done.
Marie Claire

Heart-wrenching and romantic… draws comparisons to Lisa Genova’s Inside the O’Briens.… [A] solid choice for book groups that appreciate stories of everyday people with ordinary failings who overcome adversity.
Library Journal

A moving and surprising novel about love and parenthood, anxiety and hope. Readers who loved Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You will be swept up by Jess and Adam’s story.

Isaac…skillfully captures Jess' oscillating emotions. Determined to make Adam love William,… [she] has a much more important motive for finding Adam—one that may spell life or death. A witty, light romance from a welcome new voice.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
Catherine Isaac has described You Me Everything as a “love story in the widest definition of the term.” The novel explores the relationships between two lovers who went their separate ways, a mother and her ten-year-old, a distant father and the son he hardly knows, and a sick mother and her grown-up daughter. Which of these relationships did you feel were portrayed most effectively? Which did you enjoy reading about most?

2. We learn halfway through You Me Everything that Jess had a major choice to make in her life: whether or not to take a genetic test that would determine her own future. Would you have taken the test? Or could you have lived without knowing?

3. The novel is filled with lavish descriptions of the Dordogne, of the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a glorious French summer. Was this an aspect of the book that you enjoyed? Did the author successfully transport you to France as you were reading?

4. Isaac has said she hopes the book will raise awareness of Huntington’s disease, the condition Jess’s mother is living with. Had you known much, if anything, about the disease before reading this book? What do you think of how the author handled this difficult subject?

5. Near the end of the book, there is a new revelation about the night of William’s birth. Did you work out what had happened before Jess did?

6. “Sometimes it takes darkness to see how we shine.” Do you think it’s true that challenges in life can make a person stronger?

7. One of the themes explored in the novel is the idea of living life in the moment, not dwelling on fears about the future. Why do you think so many of us find that difficult to do?

8. You Me Everything handles some serious topics, but has moments of humor, too. What made you laugh in the book? How did you think this was balanced by other, more serious, aspects of the story?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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