Published By: Bonnier Books
Released On: 09/06/2022
When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, broken-hearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly pensioner Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like her own. They made plans for a date, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her.
Libby is inspired by the story and, with the help of an unlikely companion, she makes it her mission to continue Frank’s search. As she begins to open her guarded heart to strangers and new connections, Libby’s tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the 88 bus is slipping away . . .
More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chance for happiness – before it’s too late.
Thanks to NetGalley and Bonnier Books for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
This is such a wonderful book I read it all in one sitting, I just couldn’t bear to part with the characters and the world Freya Sampson had created. It’s such a normal, everyday world, but with an added spark. There’s a warmth to the story, to the characters, to their journey that you can’t help but be pulled into.
This is Freya’s second book (I haven’t read her first) and yet it feels like it’s something she has been honing for years; the writing is glorious. She is definitely going to be an author I keep my eye on in the future.
Most of the action is set in London, a city I know reasonably well seeing as I live a 20-minute train ride away, but she’s depicted it so well that it feels like a different world. I’ve been to Piccadilly Circus, I’ve been to the art galleries, and yet I have never seen them in the light Freya has created here.
Frank is possibly one of the cutest fictional characters I’ve come across. He’s got his problems but his whole life has been focussed on finding the woman he fell in love with sixty years ago. In another author’s hands, this might have sounded a bit creepy, but there’s a tenderness here. Freya has hit the right balance between believable and sweet. There’s an old-fashioned quality about Frank; he reminds me of the way people used to talk about gentlemen in the early-mid 1900’s. He’s charismatic and kind and loving and sincerely hopeful. The main character of Libby is very well written too. I identified with her on so many levels, and she coped with so many things being thrown at her, juggling so many different plates that she’s a very inspiring character. There’s a cast of supporting characters such as Dylan (the caring but closed-off punk), Rebecca (her perfectly polished sister), Pauline (her overbearing and controlling mother), Simon (her meddling ex), Hector (her energetic but loving nephew) and a whole lot more besides; some have small parts and others have large, but they all perfectly compliment Libby and Frank’s story.
This has caused the very definition of a book hangover. I have so many other books waiting to be picked up and read, but I’m not quite ready to leave the world that Freya has created. It’s a love story, a rom-com but with a difference. It’s got so many layers to it that it entertains you, fills you with joy, makes you think, makes you cry, and overall, makes you happy and fills you with hope.