Because of You tells the story of Hannah, a young woman at the beginning of her adult life at the start of the book, following her through her life for 36 years. A Swedish Jew, she spends time in London before returning to Sweden for her career, and the reader is taken along on her journey.
Of course, it’s a story of love and relationships, primarily with two men in Hannah’s life, but also with her friends, both old and new, her parents, brother and grandmother, and her colleagues. Hannah’s life in London is a whirlwind of social engagements – she is a regular at various clubs that have a distinctive late 70s feel, which is where she meets Mark – an attractive and charismatic man about whom her friends warn her, but whom she can’t help falling for. The second man in her life is Ben, for whom Hannah is his soulmate, he falls deeply in love with her immediately, but is forced to wait while she realises that Mark is not the man for her.
Some of my very favourite stories are ones which span decades in the life of characters, and the same is true here. It was a pleasure to follow Hannah on her journey and get to know her, both celebrating in her triumphs and despairing in her ill-advised decisions. She’s an honest and kind character who begins the novel a little innocent, and by necessity, has to become a little wiser to the world, but this does nothing to affect the reader’s fondness for her, and ultimately, you just want her to be happy.
The author’s own experiences have clearly come to bear on this novel, as London and Sweden throughout the different eras are well-realised. In the end, it’s a great story, and one that had me racing through it to find out what the ending would be.
Because of You by Hélene Fermont
First published: August 2016
Review copy provided by Bookollective