“Sophie May has a secret. One that she’s successfully kept for years. It’s meant that she’s had to give up her dreams of going to university and travelling the world to stay in her little village, living with her mum and working in the local teashop. But then she meets the gorgeous Billy – an actor with ambitions to make it to the top. And when they fall in love, Sophie is whisked away from the comfort of her life into Billy’s glamorous – but ruthless – world. Can she handle the constant scrutiny that comes with being with Billy?”
I will confess that from the ages of roughly 15-17 I was obsessed with McFly (meeting them will go down as one of the top highlights of my teen life). Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher, novelist and wife of McFly frontman Tom Fletcher, is a book I would have loved 7 years ago – and, it turns out, one my 24-year-old self loved too.
Protagonist Sophie May has lived in the sleepy little town of Rosefront Hill her whole life. Her world is shaken up when Billy Buskin, the star of a movie they’re filming right in her tiny village, starts frequenting the quaint and delightful teashop that she works in. It becomes quickly apparent that the two have a crush on each other, and they begin dating. As their romance escalates, Sophie is plucked from obscurity and shoved in front of the spotlights and cameras of Billy’s movie-star world.
But when she gives up her former life to move in with Billy in London, Sophie finds out that her new-found fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. She’s working awful hours in a horrible little coffee shop, she’s alone a lot due to Billy’s unsociable schedule and she can’t shake the nagging feeling that his agent really, really doesn’t like her. As things get worse, an article detailing Sophie’s biggest secret and the most heartbreaking thing that’s ever happened to her is published. When Sophie discovers that teashop owner and best friend Molly was the unwitting information source, she starts ignoring her. With no-one to turn to for advice, Sophie’s mood plummets. Breaking point comes when Billy’s latest role involves him acting out some rather intimate scenes with his actress ex-girlfriend Heidi. Sophie confronts him and, after a huge argument, returns to Rosefront Hill to think things over. But her devastation has to be put on hold when she suddenly finds out that Molly’s terminally ill and hasn’t got much time left.
Mourning the loss of two of the people she loved most in her life, an unfortunately familiar grief, Sophie has to deal with the tough decision of seeing if she can let one of them back in her life. Is she ready to give Billy another chance, or will she choose the relative peace and simplicity of Rosefront Hill?
Billy and Me is a poignant, bittersweet novel that has a lot more emotional depth than most of its contenders on the market. Having faced some of the issues Sophie is forced to deal with myself (not dating the celebrity, unfortunately), I really connected with the book – and immensely enjoyed it, too. Giovanna’s characters are well-crafted, and you can tell that her personal experience has fed a lot into the book, making for a genuine and relatable read. I hope there will be more Billy and Sophie novels to come!
Many thanks to Penguin for the review copy.