Audrey Winters, named after Audrey Hepburn, is aged seventeen. She lives with her mother in a British suburb. Her brother is away at university. Audrey and her mother are struggling to come to terms with a deeply acrimonious divorce. Her father lives nearby with his new family. He has just insisted they sell the family home.
Audrey decides to apply for a job at the local artisan cinema, the Flicker, as a means of escaping from this distress. Audrey has been studying drama but has abandoned her plan. At the cinema she meets another employee named Harry. Harry is the charming bad boy. The book poses questions. Will Audrey and Harry become a couple? Will Audrey’s interest in drama rekindle? She had been studying the tropes of romance films. What will become of her family?
Bourne has embarked on a challenging task, combining a conventional teen romance with a more fundamental attempt to define love itself. She invites her characters to examine their motives more critically and more searchingly than usual, and at the same time encourages her readers to do the same. Bourne gives us a decent picture of the charming and beguiling aspects of love. But she also gives the reader a clear perception of the anguish and disappointment love may involve. The only failing of the book is that from time to time the pace of the narrative flags and the reader easily gains the impression of a work less original and perceptive than the book is.
The denouement of the book is stunning at diverse levels.