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Publisher Description


'An impossibly seductive love story, underpinned by a heart-breaking secret' ROSIE WALSH

‘What a stunning novel. That hot, sultry setting - Allie's refreshing straightforwardness, Ed's absolute swooniness - I loved it’ BETH O'LEARY

‘An emotional and uplifting book about secrets, family and identity. Such a joy! So rich and engaging, 5 stars’ ADELE PARKS

In late 1983, a letter arrives, containing secrets so unthinkable that it is hidden away, apparently forever. 

More than three decades later, it is found . . . by the last person who was ever supposed to see it.

When Allie opens an envelope in her grandmother’s house, it changes everything she knows about her family - and herself.

With the truth liable to hurt those she loves most, she hires a private detective to find out what happened to her late mother in the summer before Allie was born. Taking leave from her job as a research scientist, she is led far from home, accompanied by her best friend Ed.

But the secrets that emerge go far beyond anything they were expecting. Now, Allie must find the courage to confront her family’s tangled past and reshape her own future.

From Richard & Judy Book club author Catherine Isaac comes the emotional and uplifting story of love, loss, friendship and a letter that changes everything.


‘If you want a book that’ll keep you hooked, make you cry...this is the perfect read’ Fabulous Magazine

‘Uplifting, emotional and surprising’ Hannah Beckerman

‘I adored it… a gorgeous sunny setting, exploring love, friendship and the twistiest of family entanglements’ Jill Mansell

'A gorgeous location, a story full of twists and turns and tension and some heart-stopping romance – what more do you want from a love story?' Red 

'Intriguing and pacy' Libby Page

'Family secrets and hidden love – the perfect combination for a mesmerising read' Santa Montefiore

‘A gorgeous book saturated with sunshine that will fill your heart with joy’ Milly Johnson

'Secrets come to the surface in this tale of love and loss' Woman

‘Intricately crafted, beautifully written, an emotional roller-coaster' Iona Grey

'Such a good book. Tender and evocative' Andy Jones

'I fell head over heels in love with this book! A page-turning mystery, a wonderfully uplifting story about love in all its forms and characters so real, I still wonder what they're doing' Katy Regan

'I absolutely loved it, what a rich and engaging story' Dani Atkins

'This novel is a delight' Goop 

November 28
Simon & Schuster UK

Customer Reviews

Queen Bee 49 ,

Messy Wonderful Us

Loved it. Couldn’t put it down. Full of glorious detail and has some surprising turns and a romantic feel.

Love you, love you not ,


It took me a few pages to get into this book but once I did I could not put it down! Absolutely incredible. I fell in love with the characters, smiled and cried all the way through.

Kezzlexoxo ,

Great book!


Messy, wonderful us by Catherine Issac.

For some strange reason I was quite slow in reading this book. This was definitely down to me as a reader and was probably because I’ve lost my reading enthusiasm a little bit during lockdown. The context of my reading speed is important because about a third of the way through this book I simply couldn’t put it down. 👀 📖

The story follows Allie and her oldest and best friend, Ed, as they both navigate through some very complicated family issues. Allie’s journey takes her on a trip to Italy to trace someone who may help her to unlock some old information about her mother’s pastt. Ed in an attempt to get away from his complicated marriage, decides to accompany Allie and take a well deserved vacation himself.

Firstly, the story has links to Liverpool which intrigued me personally. I was born in Liverpool and lived there as a small child. My family are predominantly scousers, so it was pleasurable for me to read about places that have shaped my childhood for example, Oxford Street hospital (where I was born) and Sefton Park. It was interesting to compare my memories with the authors descriptions.

Secondly, what really stood out to me throughout reading this book was the beautiful balance between description and prose. I personally don’t appreciate lengthy descriptive passages in books and in my opinion this book is perfectly balanced.

As mentioned, a third of the way through this book I was completely invested and I needed to know all of Allie’s and Ed’s secrets.

The story is mainly told from the POV of Allie but helpfully there are also chapters from Ed’s POV and also some chapters from the past. There are some very shocking twists and turns that I honestly didn’t expect as a reader. Each development made me read on eagerly.

There is a beautiful chemistry and history between Allie and Ed, this was extremely enjoyable to explore as a reader. A real sense of will they or won’t they?

The ending (without spoiling) had me completely on the edge of my seat. I was absolutely filled with suspense and at the time of reading I honestly had no idea what was going to happen.

Quite simply, I really enjoyed reading this book. I’m looking forward to reading more by Catherine Issac. I would definitely recommend this book.


More Books by Catherine Isaac