Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Title: If You Only Knew
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Women's Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 1st September 2015 (1st published 25th Aug 2015)
Pages: 412
Book Source: Harlequin Mira AU & NetGalley

Synopsis: Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbour, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory — and their relationship — and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood.

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present, and find a way to get what they want most of all.

Our Thoughts:
My friend Karen, some-time-guest-reviewer-on-the-eclectic-reader, fellow Higgins fan, instigator of my growing KH book collection, partner-in-stalker-ing at ARRC 2013, read If You Only Knew around the same time I did so we decided to share the Kristan Higgins love and combine our thoughts on her latest with some fangirl ramblings a semi coherent joint review.

Karen, the very lovable Kristan and me at ARRC, Brisbane

What did you think?
Karen: I loved it. I know when I open a Kristan Higgin's novel it's going to brighten my day and If You Only Knew didn't disappoint.

Me: I loved it too. If You Only Knew has major 'feels' and kudos to Kristan for transitioning deftly into the field of women's fiction.

The story?
Karen: I'm trying to think of a way to describe the storyline and this conversation between Jenny and Leo on Jenny's return from the grand opening of her bridal design store, Bliss, sums it up ….

“Well, let’s see.  My mom told at least nine people how wretched she’s been since my father died twenty-two years ago, my ex-husband, his beautiful wife and perfect baby showed up, and my sister’s husband confirmed that he’s having amazing sex with someone else.”
“Shit.  Now I wish I’d gone.” He sits down in the chair across from me.  “I’m sorry about Rachel.”

I’m still trying to decide which aspect of the story I enjoyed the most.  

Me: It's all about relationships. The bond between sisters Jenny and Rachel, the girls' testy relationship with their widowed mother, Jenny's oddly intimate relationship with ex-husband Owen and his new family, Rachel and Adam's marriage, Rachel, supermum to adorable triplet daughters, Jenny's desire for a relationship with reclusive landlord Leo.  

I loved the emotion, the laughs and tears, the snerk-funny stuff and I particularly loved that it was all so firmly centered in realness. I liked that I felt angry and frustrated with them all at different times. I wanted both Jenny and Rachel to value themselves more. 

Any surprises?
Karen: I think what surprised me most was the emotion I felt, reading about Rachel dealing with her husband’s infidelity. Kristen has written some very powerful paragraphs about what a real marriage might go through….not just “he cheated, it's over.” Struggling with your feelings, when you obviously still love your husband.

It’s the first time I’ve really cried in front of him since I found that horrible picture.  “Oh, sweetheart,” he says, pulling me into his arms and I hate that it feels so good to be held, and I hate that we fit together so perfectly, and I love that he knows just how to rub my back and stroke my hair.  I love him.  I hate him.  And I’m so tired of feeling both ways.

Me: not surprise, more like relief, that whilst this story is about the very real and heart-breaky experiences in life, Kristan's trademark snarky humour remains firmly entrenched. 

take Rachel's conversation with old Mrs Donovon and her weeping outie-snoutie-belly-button. Only Kristan Higgins could turn a visit to the Doctor for an STD panel, courtesy of your lying, cheating husband ... into emotional hilarity.

Do you know how challenging it is to gag and laugh at the same time??

or Jenny accompanying Rachel to the plastic surgeon .... liposuction, labia plumping and tears.

"You don't need anything changed about you," I say, my voice shaking. 
"I know," she whispers, "I just can't ... I can't help... I hate myself for coming here, but I can't help it! Emmanuelle is so beautiful Jenny! She's so scary beautiful! She's Maleficent beautiful." 
... "I bet she's not that beautiful."
"She is," my sister says.
"Well, she has a very ugly vagina," I say, and my sister bursts into that mixture of laughter and crying. 

Final thoughts?
Karen: I want more Jenny and Leo and I want to know what happens with Rachel down the track ... they need their own book.

Me: I want a night at the Tribeca Grand ... 

But I also agree with Karen, I want more of it all. 

Connect with Kristan Higgins

US cover is pretty


  1. Nice review! I really liked this one too, especially the relationship between the sisters. I hope she writes more books like this.

    1. me too Christina, I think KH sits very nicely in the women's fiction genre. I'm kind of hoping for a series.

  2. I always LOVE Kristan's books!!! Now I have a new one to enjoy!! Off to check it out!!!!!!!!!!

    1. we have such good taste Julie haha. Hope you love it too :))

  3. This was so great! I love it! I have had this book on my list, and I'm so glad to see you both enjoyed it!

    1. aww thanks Brandie, can't wait to see if you love it too!!

  4. Great post, great review-- love those photos too. Okay now I seriously want to pick up a Higgins book. I take it she has more than one series, so I'll be checking out her back list too. Thanks, Sheree for the tip!

    1. ooh I'm glad Rita ... I've read her Gideon Cove series too but I think Karen has read everything KH has written lol. I know Karen loves the Blue Heron series. Can't go wrong really :)

  5. Coolest sign ever :) I would have been thrilled

    1. lol we had fun doing it and Kristan is just so cool and funny and sweet :)

  6. I'm green with envy that you got to meet Kristan Higgins. ;) I love her writing, and what a fun review!

    1. Thanks Kathy, hope you get to read this one, it really was wonderful. Karen and I were so excited to meet Kristan, she couldn't have been sweeter. Hope she comes back to Australia soon, I'd probably sell a kidney to be there haha :)

  7. I am reading this one right now and so far, loving it!

  8. What a fun review, and wonderful to share it together. So jealous of you meeting KH in 2013, but what a joy for you both. I too hope she writes more of Leo and Jenny and Rachel, we shall have to wait and see!

    1. If I knew KH was coming back for another event I'd be there with bells on, (I'm sure Karen would too) she's just delightful and hilarious. I could see this being a series ... fingers crossed!

  9. Loved the approach you took with this and how lovely to see a picture of you!!!!!

    1. Thanks Deb, Karen and I burnt the candle both ends that weekend but it was sooo much fun! I'd love to do it again but 2017 is too far away to plan just yet.

  10. Fantastic review ladies...and you sold me. Now I want to read this one!


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