Allie Culpepper leads a carefully ordered life. An academic research scientist at a prestigious university in Liverpool, Allie is trying to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, and when she’s not working she enjoys running and tennis. Things have been quiet on the romance front since she split from her long-term boyfriend a few years back, but Allie has her family and friends, and most particularly, she has Ed, her best friend since school days.
But when Allie stumbles upon an old letter at her grandparent’s house one day, her neat little life is turned on its head. The letter is about her mother, who died when Allie was little, and if it means what Allie thinks, it could change everything she knows about her family and herself. Reeling, Allie decides she must uncover the truth, and journeys with Ed to Northern Italy, where it seems the answers to her questions may lie.
As Allie and Ed make their way through Italy, however, it turns out Allie isn’t the only one going through a life crisis. In an unexpected turn of events, Ed reveals that he is separating from his wife, Julia, even though they seemed like the world’s most perfect couple, and he’s reluctant to say why. As Allie searches for answers about her family’s tangled past, other long-buried secrets and unspoken truths bubble to the surface, and she is forced to confront not only her past, but the reality of her relationship with Ed…
The latest novel from Catherine Isaac, Messy, Wonderful Us is a poignant, emotional and utterly absorbing tale of one woman’s hunt for answers about her past and her future. Isaac’s previous novel, You Me Everything, saw the author compared to Cecelia Ahern and Jojo Moyes, and this latest release cements Isaac’s talent for crafting heartrending yet deeply uplifting stories about loss and love, grief and hope, and the endless complexity of human relationships.
A story that seesaws between past and present and unfolds through the eyes of three characters, Messy, Wonderful Us is perfectly paced. As Allie works to find out the truth about her family, each chapter adds a new layer of detail and intrigue, until the decades-old secret at the heart of the story is finally revealed. All the characters are well-crafted, but Allie is particularly compelling. Although she’s confronted with some unexpected, hard-hitting truths, her journey ultimately shows how much a person can grow and blossom when they discover more about their background and origins.
Isaac’s dialogue flows beautifully, and the setting is another real highlight of this story. Isaac brings Northern Italy to vivid and convincing life—you can practically see the golden afternoon light reflecting off the old buildings in the bustling town squares, and if you close your eyes you can almost feel the cobblestoned streets beneath your feet, and taste the delicious food and wine.
A deeply moving, gently funny tale of self-discovery, family and the power of love, Messy, Wonderful Us is a perfect read for fans of Me Before You, PS, I Love You, and Marian Keyes’s Anybody Out There.
Catherine Isaac was born in 1974 in Liverpool, England. She studied History at the University of Liverpool, before completing a postgraduate diploma in Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University. She began her career as graduate trainee at the Liverpool Echo. At 27, she was appointed Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post and held the position for five years.
She wrote her first book, Bridesmaids, while on maternity leave and under the pseudonym Jane Costello. She has since written nine books, all Sunday Times bestsellers in the UK. You, Me, Everything is her first novel writing as Catherine Isaac. Film rights to this novel have been optioned by Lionsgate, and foreign rights have sold around the world. Her latest novel is Messy, Wonderful Us.
Catherine lives in Liverpool with her husband Mark and three sons. In her spare time she likes to run, walk up mountains in the Lake District and win at pub quizzes, though the latter rarely happens.