Chelsea Mancilla, Guest Writer
“Maybe This Time ” is about overcoming grief, perseverance in personal relationships, and how to handle awkward situations like accidentally flinging knickers outside the window. Jill Mansell conveys how our daily lives are filled with emotion and different journeys until it is the right time for life’s puzzle pieces to come together. It was endearing to see how characters found strength through their friendships. This book touches on different types of love between love interests, family and friends.
Emylia Huish, more commonly and fondly called Mimi, arrives in Goosebrook to visit her father, Dan Huish. When Mimi was 15 years old, her parents divorced after her father revealed he was gay. He recently settled into Goosebrook with his partner, Marcus. Mimi is an ambitious workaholic in public relations. After she leaves the train station by foot, Mimi stumbles upon Cal while he is assisting a pregnant ewe. Mimi is immediately attracted to Cal when she realizes he is not attacking a defenseless sheep.
From Mimi’s point of view, Mansell writes, “He really did have an incredible smile; not overly flirtatious, but the joyous, inclusive kind that made you feel better for being on the receiving end of it.”
However, her romantic notions are shut down when she learns that Cal is married to Stacey, and has a young daughter named Cora. The story leans into the tales of the side characters, including Lois and Felix.
Everyone’s lives change when Mimi’s father is killed in an accident, alongside Cal’s wife, Stacey. The third passenger in the car, Lois, is able to survive, but suffers the amputation of her leg and multiple scars. I believe this story is an authentic representation of loss after the accident. Mimi reflects not only on her own grief, but empathizes with Cal’s loss and the cognitive dissonance she feels when she thinks about how Lois was able to survive, whereas their loved ones had not.
Mansell demonstrates that family can be a choice. When Mimi abruptly leaves her London flat and her job, she finds safety in Goosebrook with her father’s former partner, Marcus. Although Mimi and Marcus are no longer family in a legal sense, they are bonded by the memory of Mimi’s father, Dan. Mimi also befriends Lois and Cal. Although this appears to be an opportunity to begin a relationship with Cal, Mimi takes a job outside of Goosebrook as an assistant to the snobbish and bad-tempered writer CJ Exley, while his previous assistant is on maternity leave. I think my favorite character in this book is CJ, because he is hilariously unlikable. However, it is later revealed that his snobbish façade is meant to hide a fragile ego. I enjoyed Mansell’s depiction of characters. I think the fear is that romance is idealized and unrealistic in fiction, but I think Mansell has just the right amount of realism and romance.