Hello, Again: A Book Review

Photo courtesy of Isabelle Broom

Philippa (known as Pepper to her friends) has lived her whole life in the picturesque coastal town of Aldeburgh in the East of England. A life numbed by grief following the accidental death of her sister Bethan two decades ago; a life only partly lived as Pepper has given up her dreams of travel and ambition to become a professional artist. Instead, she has sought refuge in teaching art through her own community project ‘Arts For All’. Outside of work, she socialises with a few close friends and her mother. A mother whose remote distant existence has been defined by her younger daughter’s death and no one, not even Pepper can find a way through to her.

Into this world Pepper’s older and feisty friend, Josephine, cajoles her to come along on a trip to Lisbon to try and discover what happened to Josephine’s first and true love, Jorge. What Pepper does not realise is that Josephine’s invitation becomes the catalyst which alters her entire life.

Wow! As the pair arrive in Lisbon the novel truly takes off and luckily this is only the first of five trips abroad that Philippa ends up making.

Lisbon is described in glorious lush technicolour detail, capturing the mesmerising beauty of the city and its people. The author paints a vivid image of the capital, the serenity palpable through the wonderful and magical depiction. I felt transported to Lisbon (and later the other destinations); yet I must reinforce that at no stage is the energy and ease of the narrative sacrificed for the sake of the locations.

Travel is so much more than sightseeing and this is the case for Pepper who finds herself transformed through her travels and experiences. First, in Lisbon she meets a German named Finn and the two of them seem destined to be together. As the story moves back to Aldeburgh, then to Hamburg, Barcelona and Guernsey, Pepper finds increasing creativity and freedom within herself as she faces the guilt of moving forward with her life, both personally and artistically.

“Guilt that her own pain did not run deep enough, that she dared to hope for elation in the wake of tragedy.”

Excerpt from ‘Hello, Again’.

Romance is interwoven throughout the book and interestingly played out across the various generations. Whilst the love interest between Pepper and Finn dominate, her enigmatic friend Simon becomes a frequent presence in her life. The romantic life of Josephine and even that of her mother and father also are explored with sensitivity and warmth.

Through this powerful portrayal of love, loss and friendship I found myself drawn ever deeper into the lives of all the characters, hooked by their tangled romantic encounters and I cheered along as they found a life beyond sadness. Nothing is predictable and the continual surprises ensure this is a rewarding, thoughtful and entertaining book.

Finally, a note to myself! How has this author not been on my radar! ‘Hello, Again’ is Isabella Broom’s eighth book and I now look forward to catching up with some of her previous works. I think I’ve got my summer reading sorted!

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication date: 9th July 2020

To purchase: Amazon UK Amazon US or any bookshops or book websites.

About Isabelle Broom

Isabelle Broom was born in Cambridge nine days before the 1980s began and studied Media Arts in London before a 12-year stint at heat magazine.

Always happiest when she’s off on an adventure, Isabelle now travels all over the world seeking out settings for her escapist fiction novels, as well as making the annual pilgrimage to her second home – the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Currently based in Suffolk, where she shares a cottage with her two dogs and approximately 467 spiders, Isabelle fits her writing around a busy freelance career and tries her best not to be crushed to oblivion under her ever-growing pile of to-be-read books.

85 thoughts on “Hello, Again: A Book Review

  1. Pingback: Spotlight: Hello, Again by Isabelle Broom – Penstricken

  2. Riddhi Bhargava

    Hi Miss Annika! I absolutely enjoyed your review and Hello Again is now definitely on my TBR!
    P.S. I loved your description of the author!

    1. Hi Riddhi and thank you for your lovely comment and so glad you enjoyed the review! 😀 Enjoy when you have a chance to read it! The author description is superb I agree, not written by me but rather the bio details from the publishers. Having travelled extensively in Greece and living not too far from Suffolk I was immediately taken with Isabelle – and how many of us don’t live with the threat of a toppling ‘ever-growing pile of to-be-read books’!

  3. Pingback: Hello, Again: A Book Review — Annika Perry’s Writing Blog – Word Mongery and Musings

  4. This sounds like an interesting book, especially since travel these days is pretty limited. I love the title and the cover itself. It’s so uplifting. Thanks for your review, Annika. ❤

    1. Exactly, Carol! 😀 I couldn’t resist the book once I read the places it would take me. The title and cover are great, I agree and luckily the novel is equally captivating! Wishing you a lovely Sunday, Carol and hope you had a good time celebrating Canada’s special day earlier in the week! Xx 😀❤️

    1. Jacquie, thank you so much! 😀 It’s a joy of book to read and review … and as I’m missing the actual gift of travel this was the perfect book for now! Already planning trips to Lisbon where I hopefully will be able to use my newly learnt Portuguese! 😀 Enjoy the novel when you have a chance to read it! Xx

  5. I love your review of “Hello, Again,” Annika! Your review made the book come alive. Isn’t it wonderful of how travel changes one’s life. After grieving for twenty years, travel changed Pepper’s life. I love when romance happens in the travel story. Just like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, she did a good job to include her romance in her book.
    Hope you and your family are doing well, Annika! 🙂 ❤

    1. Miriam, thank you so much for your wonderful comment! 😀 If I manage to bring the life and energy of the book across that is fantastic and also reflects the novel itself! I think so many of us dream of travel and that it will irrevocably change our lives for the better so it’s easy to be drawn to Pepper and her life!

      Oh, I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s books ‘ Eat, Pray, Love’ is terrific and I almost didn’t read it because of all the hype. Have you read her very different fiction novel ‘The Signature of All Things’ – one of my favourite books but it received a mixed reception. I thought it was a tour de force in storytelling and writing!

      Thank you, we are fortunately all well so far and bearing up okay – much happier I can see my mother as part of our bubble/pod! Hope you and your family are well and keeping positive through all this. Not always easy. Happy reading, my friend! xx 😀❤️

      1. I heard that the movie of Eat, Pray, Love is better than the book. I haven’t seen the movie. The beginning of her first chapter kind of made me angry of her ex-husband. What a passive-aggressive jerk. She gave up her “fortune” to buy freedom. She got the advance of the book before she wrote it. I was hoping she would find love again. I did check on her to see if she is still connected to that guy she met.
        Her experience reminded me of my own. But I didn’t travel because I couldn’t give up my job and I had to stay close to my daughter.

        I started “The Signature of All Things” but got sidetracked by other activities. I’ll go back to it soon.

        My granddaughter are my motivation to stay safe and well. I haven’t seen my new granddaughter in person yet, but saw her photos and kept up with her growth from my daughter’s Tinybeans account. 🙂 ❤

        1. How interesting that Gilbert’s life mirrored your own but yes, not always so easy to give up one’s job for year! I hadn’t realised until now that she’s written a book about marriage to Jose Nunes! Must check it out

          Oh, I really hope you can see your granddaughter soon, the separation over such a long time is heartbreaking. Patience has never been needed more than now! Hugs ❤️🤗

          1. I like her writing style. She is honest and funny sometimes, in her memoir.

            I’m watching the news closely and will make tentative plan to see my granddaughters. The airlines are good in cancellations without penalty. 🙂 ❤

  6. Hi Annika,

    For some mysterious WP reason, I wasn’t getting your posts, so I un-followed you, then followed you again and hope that will do the trick. Sheesh! Anyway, love the clever display, the cheery book cover, and your amazing review. I’ll be purchasing this soon. Amazon and I have a great relationship. 🙂 By the way, it’s so good to see you back and thanks for introducing us to Isabelle. I’ll peruse Amazon for more of her books. Sending much love, Lauren ❤😊

    1. Hi Lauren, it is strange with WordPress and notifications and I find there are many I’m following but never receive post advice! I hope your trick works! I’m smiling at your great relationship with Amazon … same here and been treating myself to lots of books recently! Oh, the picture of Isabelle’s book display was fantastic and I was chuffed to be allowed to share it here. Have a fun time reading the book, becoming engrossed in Peppers’s life and enjoying a bit of armchair travel! Love & hugs ❤️🤗

  7. Eek! Somehow I missed your post in my WP Reader, Annika. It’s so good to see you back! What a wonderful review. I’ll certainly be adding this to my list. I love that cover too! It’s so bright and cheerful. I hope you and the family are all doing well. ❤

    1. Jill, since I’ve not been on a while I’m not surprised you missed my post … just lovely to see you here and thank you for your great comment. It was a treat of a book to review and so glad you’re adding it to your TBR list! The cover is beautiful, I agree and I imagine a sense of the Mediterranean blue as well as hints of the stunning Portuguese azulejos! Hope you’re having a good week. xx❤️

  8. Sounds like a great read, Annika. Travel changes who we are because it opens us up to exploration and new possibilities. You have a wonderful touch for book reviews which is based on your understanding of the human experience. Your compassion and love for characters and stories comes through brilliantly. Thank you!

    1. Rebecca, wow! You have me blushing and I’m touched by your ‘review’ of my reviewing-style! It means so much to be that you see all this within reviews – I always worry I won’t be able to convey the essence of a novel well enough – I feel much reassured by your words – thank you so much!

      How true about the wonders of travel … but I am still surprised how many can return from a trip totally unchanged and not having taken on board anything from the new experiences! Luckily Pepper is totally the opposite and her travels pivotal to a new life for her!

      1. There is a quote from a book that I just read about travel and living our best and boldest life. I thought your would enjoy it: “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon. I so enjoy our conversations!

  9. Hi Annika – Hello, Again sounds like a book I would definitely like – thanks for the great review and recommendation! Hope you are doing well. It’s great to see you in my Reader, too! 🙂

    1. Barbara, it’s great you like the sound of this book and so glad you enjoyed the review!😀 I wonder if your library would stock it? I saw your post of how you are organising with books for your customers and that’s fantastic work! Our libraries are still closed! Always fun to catch up on your news and reviews! Take care.

      1. Hi Annika – yes I’m going to look to see if our library has it and maybe we can add it to our collection. Our libraries are still closed to the public, but we are working to reopen our buildings soon. Great to hear back from you! 🙂

  10. Annika, I so enjoyed reading this review. It sounds like a terrific book and I wish much success to Isabelle Broom. She seems to incorporate her world travels into her fiction, and that appeals to me.

    1. Sharon, it’s so lovely to see you here and thank you so much for your great comment! 😀It is fantastic how the author has merged her love for travel into this romantic fiction all without letting her knowledge of the locations take over the book! A skill indeed and I know how tempting it must be to put in lots of information! Take care, hugs ❤️

  11. Mike

    Good to hear you back Annika. Hope everything has been OK.

    A great book review as usual. Aldeburgh is not that far away from me either, and I have always wanted to visit Lisbon and still hope to do so. In the meantime I will be buying this book to read.


    1. Mike, you will feel you’ve almost been in Lisbon after reading ‘Hello, Again’ so a great opportunity to engage in some armchair travel whilst engrossed in book! Enjoy! Oh, Aldeburgh is wonderful… I’m tempted to visit again as soon as the crowds decrease! 😀

    1. Ahh … thank you so much, Jacqui! 😀 I do find I read on an additional level when I’m reviewing a book and it’s great my passion for this one comes across! A delight to share here!

  12. Hi Annika, I enjoy your comprehensive, informative book reviews. Your phrase “travel is so much more than than sightseeing” speaks volumes. “Hooked” by location, characters and stories always makes for a good read. Thank you for introducing me to Isabelle Broom and “Hello Again.” Now on my to be read list. I agree with Pam (Roughwighting) how I have missed you, Annika. 💕

    1. Bless you, Erica … I’ve missed being here and such a joy to read your comment! 😀

      I cannot understand people who can travel abroad and return unchanged … that seems impossible almost and such a waste of time and energy. I love in this book how each trip changes something fundamental within Pepper and her life. Hope you enjoy the book as much as I do when you have an opportunity to read it.

      Take care and keep well and safe. love, xx ❤️

      1. Annika, Life has many priorities and sends us many curve balls. We cannot always be everywhere, especially on the World Wide Web. I always greatly appreciate your comprehensive, kind reviews. Take care and stay well, Annika.❤️ Also, I have been loving your son’s piano music. I do click sound on whenever I see it is him and I become transported to somewhere beautiful. You can be a proud Mama. xx ❤️

        1. Erica, the present world crises must be the biggest cuveball for a long while … and so glad you understand my absence here. I think I will be on/off for a couple of months more. I love reading your posts but don’t ever seem to get a notification for them … so must remember to check for new ones from you.

          Ahh … thank you so much for your wonderful comment about my son’s music and I’m glad it’s giving you joy! It is a blessing to hear him play at home everyday and I’m not sure how he would have coped these months without it. Oh yes, I’m a super duper proud Mama (and love how you use Mama, as this is what I called by him!) love & hugs, my dear friend! xx ❤️🦋💐

          1. Hi again, Annika, Thank you for sharing about not getting notifications on new posts. Maybe a blip with my site or me. The technological part still baffles me at times.

            Unfortunately, I agree with you “for a long while.” I try to remain positive and count my blessings, yet, I also fake it at times. Easy to get blue and then realize how grateful I should be and I am. I did not know about the “Mama.” It is a word I do not usually use. Possibly the wavelength I am getting across the ocean.❤️🌻

  13. Hey stranger, where’ve you been? 😉
    Thanks for this review and recommendation, Annika. It’s going on my TBR list right away. Besides the plot of this one, I love playing the armchair traveler through books.
    Hope you’re doing well! xo

    1. Jennifer, armchair travelling is definitely second best to the real thing … and what we all have to do at the moment! My husband and I have been considering visiting Barcelone for a while; after reading this book the city is now on top of our list! So glad you like the review and enjoy the novel when you have a chance to read it!😀

      Oh, I haven’t been far at all, just surprisingly busy these past months! Thank you, we are all fortunately well … hope you have been bearing up okay. Living in your beautiful part of the world must help a lot! hugs xx

    1. Pam, bless you! ❤️ Your comment has me smiling and laughing … it is so lovely to be back!

      Oh, the book is perfect for the beach, just don’t become too engrossed so you end up sunburnt.😀 This was one of those books where I only meant to read a bit but then just had to carry on with the next chapter. I love when that happens! Happy Reading. Much love, xx ❤️

    1. Absolutely, Brigid! 😀 I loved how the author managed to include a lot of detail about the places without it slowing the pace – it did help that the main character was an artist and therefore a legitimate reason for the inclusion of art information! Personally I was revisiting a couple of places I know quite well … and long to return to as soon as possible!

  14. She’s on my radar now too! Sounds ‘right up my street’, Annika, and you’ll know what I mean by that 🙂 🙂 A summer armed with books, in a peaceful location, sounds good to me, too. Wishing you the same!

    1. That’s wonderful, Jo and enjoy the book when you have a chance to read it! 😀 I think my peaceful location this summer will be in the garden but it is serene and idyllic, particularly when not blowing a gale! Enjoy your magical heavenly coastal retreats … I’m joining you there in spirit! xx

  15. Nice to see you pop round Annika. Wonderful review, I’m off to Amazon to learn more from this author. And the table display is brilliant! Keep well. ❤

    1. Thank you, Debby … it’s lovely to be back to blogging – ‘meeting’ up with you all! So glad you enjoyed the review and have a good time looking around at her work. Oh, I know … what a fun display of her book! I was looking around for something a bit different and came across this on Isabelle’s twitter account and was cheeky enough to ask if I could ‘pinch’ it! Happily, she said yes! Hope you are well! xx❤️

      1. That’s wonderful! Ask and you shall receive! Hanging in, keeping busy with writing – thank goodness writing helps sanity. ❤ Stay well my friend xx

  16. Thank you, Annika, for your book review and introducing me to a new-to-me author. I checked my library and there are some of Isabelle Broom’s novels, hooray! Have a wonderful week ahead!

    1. That’s great, Natalie and I hope you have the chance to read some soon. Even as I was reading your comment I reacted to the thought of a library actually being open … I love that and miss mine a lot and still waiting for a book I ordered in March. Wonder when I will see that book?

      Wishing you a lovely week ahead too … June seems to have sped by unreasonably fast!

  17. So lovely to see a post from you, Annika. I hope that you and yours are well. The book sounds wonderful. I love books set in locales where I haven’t traveled. It adds such flavor to the read. Though romance isn’t really my preference, this sounds like one I might enjoy. Thanks so much for the recommendation. Be well, my friend, and have a wonderful week. ❤

    1. Ahh … thank you so much, Diana and it was great to write a post again, although I was surprisingly nervous about the prospect. We are all very well fortunately and a joy to be in a bubble/pod with my mother – makes all the difference. I hope all is well with you and your father is out of hospital.

      Books in different locations have an added dimension to them … I must admit I choose this one as I’ve visisted two of the places and longed to read about them, beautifully incoporated into a flowing storyline. I’m so happy this has captured your interest a bit!

      Take care and wishing you a lovely week ahead. hugs ❤️

  18. Sounds like a really interesting novel. I’ve never heard of this author before but this review has definitely intrigued me. I’ve always found novels that deal with grief to be both difficult to read and necessary in that they show that no one is alone in their emotions.

    1. Sarah, I’m taken with your perception of grief and you raise an issue of grief and how no one is alone with it … in this book the mother has nearly totally isolated herself in her sorrow. I take your point about some novels dealing with loss of a loved one being difficult to read but this is not the case with ‘Hello, Again’. Many thanks for your interesting comment and glad the review intrigued you.

  19. What an enthusiastic review. The book sounds wonderful. I have to admit it’s author is new to me – all the more reason for checking it out. Nice to see you back and hope all is well.

    1. Mary, a delight to be back and posting again … we are all well but I seemed to have busier than ever! 😀 I’m glad my enthusiasm for the book came across in the review. It is fascinating how some authors slip under one’s radar … but glad that is no longer the case! Wishing you a lovely Sunday!

    1. Thank you so much, Liz … it’s good to be back here and comments as yours are so welcoming and uplifting! 😀 Yep, a wonderfully engaging book and just what is needed at the moment!

    1. Thank you so much, Darlene! 😀 It is lovely to ‘travel’ even if through a book like this and interesting locations add another wonderful dimension to a book – as you well know! Always a winning addition, I feel!

      Thank you, we are fortunately all well … hope you and your family all doing okay too. xx

  20. Great review, Annika, but I expected no less from you. I was delighted for you that the authour herself had authorised the lead photo for you.

    You get me quite involved in the story and it’s characters from start. Want to tell Pepper, no don’t give up on your dreams. You can do them even with sorrow in your heart.
    So you can imagine I was glad when the catalyst came in shape of Josephine who brought Pepper out and on travel
    and adventures both romantic and more travel.

    I have been to Lisbon too and was very taken with both people and the city. I feel we will visit more places in this book.

    Thanks to you, Annika, I will buy the Kindle version on the 9th June as pre-order is only allowed on books.


    1. Miriam, thank you so much for your lovely comment! 😀 I too was gladened when Isabelle Broom replied to my twitter message requesting permission to use her fun photograph – and also this morning she wrote a wonderful comment about my review and shared on twitter which was very sweet!

      Oh, I’m so excited that you are keen to read the book and do let me know your thoughts on it later. It seems I could buy it on Kindle and if you do it won’t be delivered there until the 9th. See if this works.

      I love how you are already rooting for Pepper and her dreams; it is a wonderfully engaging book and it’s great when a book pulls one into the lives of the characters so completely.

      Enjoy all the travels along the way in the novel and hope you can return to Lisbon sometime soon.

      Wishing you a relaxing Sunday! hugs xx🌺❤️

  21. HI Annika, this sounds like a lovely easy to read romantic story. I love the idea of learning more about Lisbon. The influence of the Portuguese was something that always interested me when I studied South African history and I would love to visit the historic city of Lisbon, even if it’s thought the eyes of a writer.

    1. Robbie, I must admit the location of Aldeburgh (not far from me at all and a place I love to visit) and Lisbon (where I spent a day and can’t wait to return) was the initial draw of the book! Luckily the story and characters were also great. I am currently learning Portuguese so I appreciated the few words thrown into the book! I had no idea about the connection of Portugal and South African history – I will have to learn more! Yes, it is an easy read, and I almost wrote that in my review but worried it might be viewed degoratively. Wish you and your family a lovely and relaxing Sunday! xx

Leave a Reply to Bette A. Stevens Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s