You might think that you absolutely do not want to read a book set in the pandemic but trust me when I say that this book is just what you need to brighten up your day.
The story begins on Sunday 22nd March 2020 when Gemma catches her boyfriend in the act with another woman on her very expensive cushions. Fleeing London to the sanctuary of her friend’s family home in the small fictional village of Crowthorpe in the West Country, she expects to stay there just for a few days until she gets her head around things. And then of course, lockdown happens! So she finds herself somewhat stranded in a house which smells of cheese and which has no mobile signal. All she has for company is her beloved dog, Mabel. Oh and the hot man (Matthew) who lives in the converted barn at the bottom of her garden!
I absolutely loved this book. Although set in the early days of lockdown, that’s not really the main focus. Everyone will though identify with so much of what happens from the clapping for carers, to getting used to wearing masks and keeping your distance, longing for the hairdressers to reopen to enjoying the lovely weather we mostly had back in those early days. In some ways, what Gemma and the other villagers experience at the start of lockdown seems like a lifetime ago and yet at the same time, so recent and familiar.
An attraction soon springs up between Gemma and Matthew and even though in one of her famous lists she has all sorts of reasons why getting together seems to be a bad idea, try telling that to her heart and head – and body. I laughed out loud at a lot of this book and this particular part had me chucking: “Less than two weeks single and you’re perving on the garden help. Get a grip on yourself, Lady Chatterley” she tells herself sternly. Their growing closeness although perhaps happening rather quickly due to their circumstances, was just lovely to read about. It was one of those relationships which you so want to work but wonder if it possibly could when things go back to normal.
I have to mention Mabel, who really was a bit of a star. She is so important to Gemma, having been her beloved late Aunt Laura’s dog. A scene in the local shop where Mabel causes chaos, thus becoming a bit of a local legend, was both really funny but also provided some worrying hours for Gemma. As anyone who has a dog knows, they are a great way to meet people when you move into a area and can help people feel part of a community. I loved the community in this book, the way they were so supportive of each other and the way they took Gemma to their hearts. Gemma, of course, threw herself into improving life for the community in ways which I’m sure many people will recognise from the past few months.
Two Metres from You was such a fun book to read. It’s warm and witty and a celebration of all the good things which have come out of the horrible situation we have been in the past year. It’s a fabulous debut novel, so uplifting and romantic, and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
To finish, I’d like to tell you that there is a Spotify playlist to go with the book. Music is rather important throughout the book so if you fancy listening to some appropriate tunes to accompany your reading, have a look at the Spotify playlist here.
My thanks to Bea at Headline Accent for providing a review copy of the book through Netgalley. Two Metres from You is out now in ebook and audiobook formats and the paperback will follow in June this year. You can order your copy here: Two Metres from You
From the back of the book
Love might be closer than you think . . .
Gemma isn’t sure what upsets her more. The fact she just caught her boyfriend cheating, or that he did it on her brand-new Heal’s cushions.
All she knows is she needs to put as many miles between her and Fraser as humanly possible. So, when her best friend suggests a restorative few days in the West Country, it seems like the perfect solution.
That is, until the country enters a national lockdown that leaves her stranded. All she has for company is her dog, Mabel. And the mysterious (and handsome!) stranger living at the bottom of her garden . . .
Packed full of laugh-out-loud moments, this hugely uplifting, feel-good and sparkling romantic comedy is simply unputdownable. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Sophie Kinsella, Beth O’Leary and Laura Jane Williams.
About the author
Heidi Stephens has spent her career working in advertising and marketing; some of her early writing work includes instruction manuals for vacuum cleaners, saucepans and sex toys. For the past ten years she has also freelanced as a journalist and, on autumnal weekend evenings, can be found liveblogging Strictly Come Dancing for The Guardian. She lives in Wiltshire with her partner and Labrador, Mabel.
Two Metres from You is Heidi’s debut novel.
You can read about some of the things that inspired the book here