The One That Got Away
by Leigh Himes
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (June 13, 2017)
In this irresistible debut novel, a freak accident allows a wife and mother to explore the alluring road not taken.
Meet Abbey Lahey . . .
Overworked mom. Underappreciated publicist. Frazzled wife of an out-of-work landscaper. A woman desperately in need of a vacation from life–and who is about to get one, thanks to an unexpected tumble down a Nordstrom escalator.
Meet Abbey van Holt . . .
The woman whose life Abbey suddenly finds herself inhabiting when she wakes up. Married to handsome congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Living in a lavish penthouse. Wearing ball gowns and being feted by the crème of Philadelphia society. Luxuriating in the kind of fourteen-karat lifestyle she’s only read about in the pages of Town & Country.
The woman Abbey might have been . . . if she had said yes to a date with Alex van Holt all those years ago.
In the tradition of the romantic comedy Sliding Doors and Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, Leigh Himes’s irresistible debut novel tells the funny and touching story of an ordinary woman offered an extraordinary opportunity to reboot her life, explore the road not taken, and ultimately, find her true self–whoever that may be.
“An enchanting novel about the choices we make in life and love–by turns hilarious, poignant, and nostalgic. Himes’s novel will make you revisit all the “what ifs” you’ve ever contemplated, from fleeting encounters to almost-weddings . . . a lively debut that will strike a chord in anyone with a romantic past.”–Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook and See Me
“In the spirit of Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, Leigh Himes delivers a fascinating novel about the road not taken. I loved the concept and execution of this clever, thought-provoking love story.”–Elin Hilderbrand, author of The Rumor
“[A] brilliantly realized wish-fulfillment scenario in the vein of Liane Moriarty . . . [Himes’s] examination of how the choices we make can define who we become will resonate with readers. For anyone who ever wondered ‘What if?’”–Booklist
“Himes explores what could have been in this charming debut novel.”–Kirkus Reviews
Roberta looked good for her age— fit and firm and painted and plucked— but for decades now she had embarrassed me with her choice of attire. Day or night, her clothes were always a little too tight, a little too short. She said she dressed to match her ‘tiger spirit,’ but I had no idea what that meant and wasn’t about to ask.
Oh my God, I’m paralyzed. I’m permanently disfigured. Or worse, I’m bleeding internally and have only days to live. I’ll be the first person in history to die from shopping… how humiliating.
And the way they spoke was problematic too. I had no idea that people— aside from the Thurston Howells on Gilligan’s Island—actually spoke like this.
To a gawky smart kid with borderline social skills, a suspect wardrobe, and a 34A bra size, having a mom like Roberta was one liability too many. There were only so many aberrations the popular kids could ignore.
She looked the same as always: overly tan, overly blond, and in clothes that even Barbie might reconsider: a purple faux-Juicy sweatshirt unzipped to reveal a low-cut silver studded tank top, stretchy white jeans, and fuzzy black boots. Her nails were long and blood red, her lips pursed and glossy. Normally, she reminded me of a past-her-prime ski bunny or an airport cocktail waitress.
He said he had fallen in love with a woman named April Dawn and he was moving to Florida with her. Can you imagine? He left me for a woman named after dish soap.
I adored this cleverly amusing and well-crafted book from beginning to end. The writing was crisp, vibrant, and highly observant, and sparkled with smart wit and lush detail. The characters were uniquely compelling, intriguing, idiosyncratic, and vividly and insightfully described. I frequently smirked and giggled-snorted at the messes Abby finds herself in, despite her efforts and best intentions. Most of us have had similar daydreams and thoughts as the main character of Abby and had fantasies of living of life of wealth and luxury, as well as the “what if” of the path not taken. I enjoyed being in her head as she processed, bumbled, bluffed her way through, and problem solved as best she could. I also reveled in being along for the ride as Abby initially enjoyed being pampered by stylists, dressed in couture, and skips along in her incredibly expensive designer shoes and coveted bags. I found her journey delightfully entertaining, enlightening and thoughtfully depicted. I certainly would not sneer at a chance to try it out for myself.
Author Leigh Himes has spent fourteen years working in the public relations field. Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, she now lives just outside of Philadelphia with her husband and their two children. This is her first book.