Going Back, by Rachael English
In 1988, awkward, uptight Elizabeth Kelly spends a frenetic summer in Boston falling in love with the wayward Danny Esposito. But summer ends and Elizabeth is forced to choose between going back to her stable relationship at home in Ireland or risking it all on a boy she barely knows. She chooses security. Two decades later, Elizabeth’s daughter goes to the United States on her own summer adventure, but when Janey is rushed to hospital her mother must return to Boston. Elizabeth and Danny are forced to make another tough choice. In 300 or so pages the RTÉ journalist Rachael English lures us into an escapist illusion and then spits us out brutally, with only the partial comfort that even heroines of fiction can be harshly tested by the most ordinary of dilemmas. It’s very predictable plotwise, and many characters are underdeveloped, but it doesn’t really matter. English is so readable; you will fall into this book as you would a soft settee. Read it and sigh for the enduring beauty of first love.