Engaging, fun and uplifting

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Book title: This Time Next Year
Author: Sophie Cousens
Publication year: 2020
Publisher: Arrow Books
ISBN: 9780593191200
Price: RM49.90

This Time Next Year is the debut novel of Sophie Cousens, a former TV producer in London, who now lives in Jersey.

I was drawn to this book because of its intriguing title. At this point in time, like all Malaysians and the rest of the world, one question in my mind is,”This time next year, will the Covid-19 pandemic be still around?” The phrase, This Time Next Year … what a coincidence, I thought to myself.

Still in the midst of celebrating the Chinese New Year, I also thought this was a perfect book to start the brand new Lunar Year of the Metal Ox.

Knowing that the author was a former TV producer, I wanted to check out her style of writing and maybe learn a thing or two about novel writing from her.

This Time Next Year is more than a romance novel. If it is just a romance book, I would not have reviewed it. It is about friendship, family, fate, finding your own destiny in life and loving yourself.

It is a heartwarming, funny and inspiring story and allows us to escape for a while from the harsh realities of everyday life.

This Time Next Year follows the story of Minnie Cooper and Quinn Hamilton, who were born at the same hospital on the first day of the year 1990.

Their mothers bonded in the labour ward, excited to see whose baby would be the first to be born and thus win the GBP50,000 prize offered by the London News that year.

Not only did Quinn win by being born one minute earlier than Minnie, he also took the name her mother planned to give her. To Minnie, he also took away all her luck.

While in labour, Minnie’s mum, Connie, had confided her choice of baby name to her roommate, Tara Hamilton, who was also having a difficult labour.

The next day, Connie was dismayed to learn that Tara had named her baby Quinn.Since she could not use that name anymore, she named her daughter Minnie.

Thirty years later, Quinn and Minnie meet at a New Year’s Eve party at a nightclub. He rescues her after she was locked in the club’s toilet for one whole night.

Minnie has always been resentful of the man who stole her name and her luck. In life, she had had a horrible run of disastrous New Year’s eves or birthdays.

Imagine her surprise when she discovers her rescuer is none other than her birthday twin and famed name stealer — Quinn Hamilton.

Later on, as the story progresses, we learn that Minnie’s bad luck has extended to the business she launched with Leila, her best friend, a few years ago, delivering homemade savoury pies to care homes and the elderly.

Although Minnie likes the job and her employees and workers, they just cannot make ends meet while relying on grants and donations to survive.

However, once she crosses path with Quinn, her luck seems to be changing. But can it last? Read the novel to find out.

Cousens is a great storyteller. I love her storyline and the characters in the great novel. Minnie, a pretty pie-maker, and Quinn, a handsome and charming business owner, are both great people dealing with personal issues. Quinn is afraid to get close to people while Minnie is scared of taking risks and blames everything on her bad luck.

Minnie and Leila have been best friends since they were 15. Their fantastic friendship reminds me of the special ties I enjoy with my very own best friend.

As time progresses, Minnie, inspired by Quinn and his “you make your own luck” approach and that of her best friend, Leila, begins to change and believe in herself more and put herself first.
This book also touches on mental health as one of its subplots.

This Time Next Year is also a character-driven book. Although different, the characters are equally loveable and relatable.

I had much fun reading the book because it is set in and around London, a city I have visited and toured before. The mere mention of Sainsbury’s brings back warm memories of my visits to this large chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom.

I look forward to more books by Cousens. Can we perhaps expect a new book from her this time next year?