What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Really enjoyed this story by Matt Dunn. I’ve read a few of his books before and love the unique perspective a male writer brings to the chick lit genre. For me his books feel less flowery and romantic and much more realistic which I find quite refreshing.
In this story Evan, a sax player, meets Sarah in a jazz club one night. There is an instant attraction and they spend a perfect night together. Unfortunately however, Evan gets a big break which drives them apart. Left behind, Sarah decides to pursue a relationship with her boss David and after a few months agrees to marry him. Spotting the wedding notice in the paper Evan returns and tries to win her back. He has one week till the wedding to put a stop to it but is one perfect night enough for Sarah to ditch David and run off with Evan?
I actually listened to the audio book of this and found it very enjoyable . I’m generally not a fan of audios but this one worked well. I think because there is a lot of dialogue it was like listening to a drama.
There isn’t a huge amount that happens in the story so I can understand why some other reviewers have found it a bit dull and repetitive. Most of the time it’s Evan or Sarah seeking advice from friends about what they should do, Evan trying to convince Sarah to ditch David or Evan trying to get Sarah’s best friend Grace on side. They do tend to go over and over the same things but there is a lot of humour amongst it all and there is the odd “what!!!!” moment. It did remind me a bit of a soap opera as characters would occasionally and unexpectedly drop a bombshell. I kept expecting the Eastenders end credits tune to kick in (you’ll understand if you’re in the UK).
The characters are very well thought out and very rounded. Evan is really likeable as the man desperate to win back the woman he loves. He refuses to play dirty and despite trying to split up a couple seems very moral. Sarah I wasn’t so sure about. She’s clearly settling for David despite him being a not very nice person and someone she’s not attracted to. I can understand she was looking for security but a lot of her actions are questionable and to be honest I couldn’t comprehend what Evan saw in her.
The highlight of the book however is the secondary characters. I loved Evan’s friend and mentor Mel and his ex band mate. They are really well thought out characters and they definitely get the best dialogue. The advice they give is seriously dodgy but a lot of the time quite funny. Sarah’s flatmate Grace is also a fascinating character and I’d love a follow up which gives her a story of her own.
I have to admit I have my doubts about whether the relationship between Evan and Sarah would ever work as they spend more time fighting than they do being happy together. I’m also not so sure about the instant love thing so it seems like a lot of drama for not much reward but I was still cheering Evan on (mostly because David was so horrible).
The ending was a bit of a surprise but worked quite well and was probably right.
Overall I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a relationship drama with less hearts and flowers and more realism and dry humour.