Blog Tour - You And Me, Always by Jill Mansell

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Jill Mansell's most recent release You And Me, Always. I've been a lover of Jill's novels for as long as I can remember so to be taking part in this tour, reviewing her latest novel and sharing an interview on Becca's Books today is wonderful.

To kick things off, Jill kindly took the time to answer a few questions for Becca's Books. It was an exciting opportunity to say the least, and I'm thrilled to be able to share that with you today, folks.

Jill, first of all, I want to congratulate you on the publication of 'You And Me, Always' which, just like your previous novels, sounds very special. I've always been in awe of how you so seamlessly weave the lives of multiple characters within your novels. Is this a tricky thing thing to do?

J - Thank you so much, Becca. Actually, the multiple characters are a bit of a trademark now, but they came about completely by accident. I wish I could write books with far fewer characters but it just doesn't work that way for me - somehow I always end up including more. They just creep into the story and then I have to give them a reason to be there! I think I worry that if I only had two characters in a book I wouldn't have enough ideas to keep the story going. Plus, this way it's more realistic, because all of us have things happening to us all the time. That's just life, isn't it!

'You And Me, Always' is set in the gorgeous Cotswold Village, Stanton Langley. Is there a particular reason as to why you chose to set your story here?

J - I asked my readers on Facebook and Twitter which of my settings they preferred and the majority said they liked my Cotswold village settings best, so it was an entirely democratic process! I then invented Stanton Langley, which is like a smaller version of Chipping Norton. (I visited Chipping Norton a while back for their literary festival and fell in love with the place. I should move there!)

Letters within a novel always seem to get to me, particularly when they're written by someone who is no longer here with us. What made you want to include this within 'You And Me, Always'?

J - Same as you, I'm sure - it's something I would definitely do for my family if I knew I was going to die. I think it's a very moving and lovely way to share your feelings and emotions. They must mean so much to those who receive them. And I write my books by hand so I love handwritten letters too!

Jill, out of all of the wonderful novels you've written, do you think you'd be able to choose a favourite? Or is that comparable to asking a mother to pick a favourite child?

J - It's so hard to choose, but I am incredibly proud of Three Amazing Things About You, because it has helped to change some people's perceptions of organ donation. (The trouble is, I never really like any of my books while I'm writing them - each time I finish one I hate it and fully expect it to be rejected by my publisher!)

You've shared on social-media many images of your planning process. I think one photo I caught a while back was of your dining-room table, completely covered with sticky notes. Would you say your methods have changed over the years, or have you always planned in this way?

J - I stick the Post-It Notes, with plot points written on them, to a length of Sellotaped-together sheets of paper to create a timeline. This has really helped me, because it's much easier than just scribbling notes on random scraps of paper and expecting them to make sense. That's what I used to do years ago!

How do you get to know your characters, Jill? Is there anything in particular that you do to really peel away their layers?

J - This is the magic part - I never know how it happens. My characters arrive fully formed, and I just know everything about their personalities. On the other hand, I never have any idea what they look like and need to write all these details down. Even at the end of the book they are still a physical blur - on the last page, I still won't know whether my main characters have hair that is blonde or dark brown!

One of my favourite things about reading your books is trying to figure out how and when your characters' lives will collide. Are you always aware of when this will happen while you're writing, or are there times when your characters will take you completely by surprise?

J - Occasionally I know, but more often I don't. I plan my storylines a bit at a time, and wait for the characters to surprise me - basically, the best ideas always come along when I'm least expecting them. (Oh, and when that happens it feels brilliant!)

In 'You And Me, Always', readers will be introduced to Lily, Eddie and Dan. If you could choose one word to describe each character, which word would you choose for them?

J - Ooh, great question! Can they have two words each? Lily - hardworking and optimistic. Eddie - jaded but interesting. Dan - charming and flirty.

With publication day for 'You and Me, Always' fast approaching, you must be very excited. Tell us, Jill, what are your plans for the big day? Does it get any less nerve-racking for you as the author?

J - This is going to be more nerve-racking but also far more thrilling than usual, because my publishers are throwing me an amazing launch party on their glamorous roof terrace overlooking the Thames! There will be friends and fellow writers and lovely readers and bloggers there... and Champagne!

And my last question for you Jill, is this. How many stories do you think you have in you yet? Will you continue writing for as long as you possibly can? I dearly hope so. The world wouldn't be the same without Jill Mansell!

J - Oh I hope I have many more stories in me - I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't write, and I do love all the feedback and social interaction I get from readers, so I can't see me stopping. As long as people want to read my words, I'll carry on scribbling them down!

Title - You and Me, Always
Author - Jill Mansell
Publication Date - January 28th 2016
Publisher - Headline
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)
Pages - 368

  
It's no secret that I'm a bit of a (okay, a major) fan girl for Jill Mansell. I've been reading Jill's books since my teens and have fallen in love with her style, stories and characters incredibly hard over the years. That love is still going strong now, and I am always anticipating her next release because I love how I feel when reading a Jill Mansell novel. Happy, hopeful and like I'm taking a leisurely stroll through the novel alongside her characters, it's a feeling I will never, ever tire of.

When the cover and blurb of You and Me, Always was revealed on social media, I was instantly drawn to the title. It's beautiful and moving, and once I'd read the blurb, I couldn't wait to get to the story within. Set within the gorgeous Cotswold Village, Stanton Langley, I had a feeling that I'd sink into this story in the same way I'd sink back into a hot bubble bath. Comforting and inviting, and entirely satisfying. I know, I know, how on earth did I get all that just from reading the blurb? Well, that's Jill Mansell, ladies and gentlemen.

You and Me, Always begins in the most tender of ways. Lily, now twenty-five, opens the very last letter written by her late mother. Now, I don't know about you but when it comes to letters, especially if the writer is now longer around, my heart breaks over and over again. Handwritten letters, in such a technology-driven age, are something to be cherished, and Lily does exactly that.  But the most recent and last letter reveals something to Lily about her mother and her first true love, which sets the wheel in motion in Lily's beautiful mind. Alongside this stunning thread of self-discovery and her mother's past, Jill also introduces readers to the character of Eddie Tessler, who's escaping the spotlight in his fame-flooded life, Dan, Lily's flirtatious long-time friend, and a couple more characters who truly bring this story to life. In true Jill Mansell style, at one point or another, these characters' lives entwine, and I couldn't wait to see when it would happen and what the consequences would be.

Each of Jill's characters within You and Me, Always were brilliantly developed, Lily being a particular favourite of mine, not only because she was the heroine but because she was so incredibly lovely. I warmed to her right from the beginning of this book and truly hoped that nothing but good would come her way. She was so positive, even her dialogue made me smile. Despite losing her mother, she was still a strong lover of life and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and following her story. Dan, too, was another favourite of mine, and later on into the novel when his deeper layers were revealed to me, I think I may have swooned just a little bit. At first, he seems like your typical lad's lad, but there is so much more to his character, it just took some time for it to simmer to the surface. In fact, I loved watching each of Jill's characters becoming more prominent as the novel progressed and by the end of it, I felt as though they were firm friends of mine.

The plot itself was wonderfully uplifting and heart-warming. Different tales from the different characters weaved in and out and I couldn't get enough. I particularly enjoyed Lily's story as she set out on a journey to discover the man who had been her mother's first love. I adored the cosy, charming setting of Stanton Langley, and I wanted to step inside and take a stroll down the street myself. I was completely invested in the characters and couldn't wait to see where they'd end up when the novel came to its end. It was exciting and oh-so-satisfying, and it has only left me feeling the same way I do whenever I finish a book by this author. Desperate for more!

Becca's Books is awarding You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell with five stars! The setting, the plot, the fantastic characters. I really can't think of a single bad thing to say about this one, except perhaps that it didn't last forever and ever, which I would have been more than happy with.









    


















2 comments :

  1. I am a Jill Mansell fan from the US. It looks like we won't get this one till July. :( Thanks for the interview & book review!

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