Tuesday, 22 June 2010

If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

GENRE: chick lit/romance


Everything in Elizabeth Egan’s life has its place, from the espresso cups in her gleaming kitchen to the swatches and paint pots of her interior design business. Order and precision keep life under control—and keep Elizabeth’s heart from the pain and hurt she has suffered in the past. Being a reluctant mother to her six-year-old nephew while trying to keep her business on track is a full-time job for Elizabeth, and one that leaves little room for error—or fun. Until, one day, Ivan unexpectedly comes into their lives. The mysterious Ivan is carefree, spontaneous and always looking for adventure—everything that Elizabeth is not. If You Could See Me Now is the extraordinary tale of Ivan and Elizabeth. Of how Ivan meets the love of his life before she even sees him, and how he teaches her that life is only worth living when it's blindingly colourful and the occasional mess. Yet just when Elizabeth is starting to trust him, it turns out that Ivan isn't at all who she thought he was. Playful and at times intensely moving, this is a novel about how seeing isn't always believing. Full of Cecelia Ahern’s trademark warmth and poignancy, If You Could See Me Now is a story of enormous heart--and just a little bit of magic.


I love Cecelia Ahern and this my favourite book written by her, perhaps because it is a perfect blend of romance, friendship, hope and a bit of magic.

Elizabeth Egan lives in a small Irish town where everyone knows one another and this makes life in the town stifling. Elizabeth is a very serious woman. She never laughs, she never has fun, she never does something spontaneous or crazy for the fun of it. Her rigid nature is a consequence of her childhood: her free-spirited mother left the family and Elizabeth was forced to grow up very soon and take care of herself and her little sister Saoirse. Eventually, Saoirse left the family as well and Elizabeth is now forced to be a mother to her nephew Luke, which is not an easy task. Luke is a happy child who wants to have fun and Elizabeth doesn’t want (and doesn’t know how) to have fun, so there is discomfort between them. She also has issues with her father, again because of mom leaving them.

Things are definitely not easy for Elizabeth and although her serious nature might repel people, I really loved Elizabeth from the start. I felt sympathy for her. She is a great character. She is a woman who has been burdened for so long that she doesn’t know what feeling happy is anymore. As such, Elizabeth was a great candidate for a life change and a journey of self-discovery.

When Elizabeth finds out that Luke has an imaginary friend he calls Ivan, she is very worried, but tries to solve the matter rationally. She reads about imaginary friends and is content to realise they only last for a few months and then disappear forever. She believes his imaginary friend is a consequence of living in a dysfunctional family without his real mom, but Luke is actually a happy boy, well-adjusted and doesn’t have any problems. Then, Elizabeth starts to feel the presence of another person in the house and one day, she meets Ivan, Luke’s friend. Elizabeth realises that Luke has been playing with an adult man for a while, which worries her, but seeing that Ivan is harmless, she allows him to remain Luke’s friend.

Ivan is a great character, one of my favourite fictional male characters created in the past few years. He is happy and dedicated, child-like, but not childish. He is very generous, simple and pure at heart. It’s his job to help people and make them happy, and he is devoted to his profession, as well as to the people he befriends. At first, Ivan thought that Luke needed his help, but the truth is that the boy is fine. It is Elizabeth who needs Ivan’s help and he makes it his mission to make her happy and bring a smile to her lips.

He spends time with her and tries to be her friend, and although Elizabeth discards him at the beginning, she grows closer to him and they become friends. He helps her find herself, the Elizabeth that has been dormant for many years, and he makes her smile again and feel happy. She takes joy in simple things again and really begins to live. She faces her past and her fears and reconciles with everything that has been gnawing at her for so long. Ivan frees Elizabeth and she opens up a new world to him as well, although unintentionally.

Ivan falls in love with Elizabeth, but he is said because they cannot be together. When her soul has healed completely, she will not need him anymore and consequently, she will also not see him anymore. SPOILERS: One thing is clear to the reader from the beginning of the novel, but Elizabeth is oblivious to the truth: Ivan is an imaginary friend. He belongs to the invisible people who are only seen by those in need of help. Once you don’t need an invisible person anymore, you don’t see them anymore, but they are real. Ivan fears the day Elizabeth will not see him again, but he is also happy for her. His feelings for her are very unselfish. END OF SPOILERS.

The novel ends of a very optimistic note. The ending is really beautiful and perfect as it is. I really love this book and it was a wonderful read. I definitely recommend it. It is warm and sentimental, but not in a corny way. And most importantly, it’s full of hope and life.

I will end my review with a quote that touched me. The quote belongs to Ivan.

"Life is made up of meetings and partings. People come into your life every day, you say good morning, you say good evening, some stay for a few minutes, some stay for a few months, some a year, others a whole lifetime. No matter who it is, you meet and then you part. I'm so glad I met you, Elizabeth Egan; I'll thank my lucky stars for that. I think I wished for you all of my life" He whispered.



Dot said...

I loved this one too! Cecilia Aherne is so brilliant at bringing fairytale elements into her books and making them completely believable!

Milka said...

I liked this one a lot, but I was disappointed with the ending.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

@Milka: I can understand that. I love a really happy ending myself. But to me, in this case it was a fitting way to end the story.