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Step Back in Time Paperback – 7 Nov 2013
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Time-travelling, groovy fashion and music, a central mystery and lots of wit. Most of all, like all of Ali's books, there's a big, yummy dollop of romance (Star)
Feel-good fun at its best (The Sun on Sunday)
A fun, clever romantic comedy (Sunday Mirror)
In this feel-good comedy of time travel and romance, single career girl Jo-Jo wakes up to suddenly find herself in 1963 - and then in the 1970s, 80s and 90s (Publishers Weekly)
An irresistibly romantic time-travel comedy from the bestselling author of From Notting Hill with Love . . . ActuallySee all Product description
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Probably she's trying to be clever by dragging the Beatles in the book, but unfortunately not everyone would find it appealing... personally I don't really think any female readers below the age of 45 would really care!
Then the characters in the book... all of them are so boring! Seriously - ALL OF THEM! All they seem to be doing was making tea and talking about Beatles...
The only positive thing about this book was it was so easy to read - if I could actually call it reading rather than page-jumping.
The time travelling concept that Jo-Jo was experiencing was never explained properly, which was okay... but it has flaws everywhere! And the relationship that she was building up with Harry throughout all the decades was lacking chemistry (absolutely none!), a rom-com without any traces of love chemistry, failed to make people laugh or cry... the only thing that it successfully achieved was putting people off the Beatles!
In 2013 Jo-Jo McKenzie is an accountant, although she seems to have no real friends or life outside work. It appears she has spent most of her working life building up her business and is consequently a majorly successful career girl in London at the age of only 29 (how stereotypical for chick lit books!) and there is no time, or life, left over for her. Who is she, as a person? We don’t find much out about that, and I am not sure Jo-Jo herself even knows.
Working on the books for Groovy Records, a retro record shop on the Kings Road, Jo-Jo likes the personal touch so takes the books back herself to chat with George, the owner, who she is very friendly with. Now, from page 15 I knew exactly how this story would end. But getting there could be a lot of fun..........
Stepping outside, Jo-Jo is knocked down by a car on a zebra crossing right outside the Worlds’ End pub and here we get into Life on Mars territory. She wakes up in 1963 and lives an alternative life there with three people she has met in her 2013 life, in very different personas, along with some genuine 1960s music industry people who have a real influence on the future. She seems to really embrace 60s life and have a good time, which she doesn’t have any time for in her real 2013 existence. The one link to the time travel aspect – George, the record shop manager – knows what is going on, but doesn’t tell her why, other than giving her somewhat cryptic explanations. Jo-Jo has no sooner got into her new life than she gets whacked by a car again – waking up in 1977. She hasn’t done all she needed to in 1963 – which was not what she thought (attempting to prevent JFK getting shot) but rather to help people move on in life and make the most of their talents.
It is clear that Jo-Jo is back in time to learn a lesson, but what lesson, really? She seems to have led a very straight, ordered, planned and uneventful life so far, with no real mistakes to put right. This purpose, the whole core of the story, is never fully explained or explored. We also gallop through each retro segment very quickly without really leaving time to catch breath; the 1985 and 1994 elements seemed particularly rushed. Although Jo-Jo learns bite-sized lessons about the personalities of the different characters she meets in the various time periods, I am not clear how she puts this into practice in real life. My favourite time periods were the 60s and 70s, possibly because I remember the 80s and 90s with such clarity, and I thought the 1960s aspect in particular was superb.
The Beatles references, whilst fun, were overdone; however my major criticism is there are too many unforgiveable irregularities with dates - throughout the decades, actually. Jo-Jo and her friends are 16 in 1977 and Ellie dresses in tartan as homage to the Bay City Rollers, who were no longer making Top 10 singles by then. No 1977 teenage girl would have Donny Osmond on the wall for the same reasons – and surely silver platform boots went out in 1973? Jo-Jo and Harry go to see Star Wars just before the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in June. Except they wouldn’t have, as Star Wars wasn’t released in the UK until Christmas 1977. Ellie meets Neil Tennant just before Live Aid, although we had never heard of the Pet Shop Boys until the very end of 1985 when the remixed West End Girls charted. Nobody would have watched Friends in September 1994 as it didn’t air in the UK until April 1995. I have clearly learned something from my vintage obsession! I would have expected more thorough research or at least a good editor to sort this out. This is a real shame. I think in many books with time travel themes the authors feel almost obliged to cram in as many retro and pop culture references as possible.
I really did enjoy this book. I love all things retro and vintage and have always fancied the idea of going back in time so it played to all my passions. As with most good chick lit books, it all comes together in the end, Jo-Jo gets some much needed “me” time, though I couldn’t help feeling that the ending was bittersweet, and I also felt it was rushed. Altogether, however, an exciting, fun, rollercoaster read that has cultural references that everyone 30 and above will recognise. I’m now off to find a good zebra crossing. Highly recommended. 4.5.
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Ali McNamara wrote this with such feeling and depth that I was hooked from page one. How she has the imagination to pull off a book like this is a mystery to me. Usually things are so predictable in stories that you know what is going to happen next, this book is filled with so may unusual happenings, of Jo-Jo going back in time, that I couldn't imagine what she was going to go through next. Traveling back in time to the 1960's then forward to the 1970's, 1980's, 1990's and then back to her present time was a real treat to read. Those she met on the way and the situations she found herself in were truly well written and I felt part of her journey. If I didn't know better I would say that Ali had gone back in time herself to be able to write such a fantastic novel. Anyone who loves time travel romances will certainly love this book. Unfortunately, I don't think anything I ever read again will live up to this fantastically written book!
Although this is a straight-forward story, there were poignant moments and plenty of smiles. The characters were well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural references throughout the decades that Jo-Jo found herself in. The changes in characters made the story all the more intriguing.
This story does not tax your brain but does keep you involved. I read it in an afternoon and, at the end, was sorry to say goodbye to Jo-Jo, Harry, Ellie and George.
As a bloke the time travel 'thing' appealed and there wasn't a huge amount of romance in it which suited me fine - although most books/films have a romantic element in them somehow, which is fine anyway.
The book (to me) had a sort of Mr Ben the cartoon character AKA George @ Groovy records, meets Quantum Leap and Life On Mars, which the Author in fact mentions herself at the end of the book. The end credits by the Author herself were also part of the enjoyment too !
For me, the 60's era was the most enjoyable decade to read and I found myself being disappointed when JoJo leaped to another decade. So much so that as I work in London I decided to visit and walk down the Kings Road... although I found it somewhat bland like any other High St ( I guess I was secretly hoping for mini skirts and Austin Powers Characters to be walking around lol )
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This was a fun and original story which had me chuckling along as protagonist Jo-Jo found...Read more