This is not a great love story.
This is a story about great love.
On a morning that seems just like any other, Robbie wakes in his bed, his wife Emily asleep beside him, as always. He rises and dresses, makes his coffee, feeds his dogs, just as he usually does. But then he leaves Emily a letter and does something that will break her heart. As the years go back all the way to 1962, Robbie’s actions become clearer as we discover the story of a couple with a terrible secret – one they will do absolutely anything to protect.
I have never been into romance novels, anything lovey dovey or mushy just isn’t my thing at all. Together is a love story there is no denying that, it is sweet, gentle, heartbreaking and the definition of a solid and happy marriage. Why did I like this novel so much? I felt that the story was unique, the way it was told was beautiful and I really connected with the characters. This isn’t just boy meets girl, flirting happens, they go out, drama occurs, they break up and then boom happy ending. This story has a lot of depth and layers and I devoured it all in one sitting.
The novel beings with 80 year old Robbie, happily married to his wife Emily. Whilst she sleeps he leaves her a love letter and a single rose and then he walks down to the sea and he kills himself. Not the ordinary opening to a romantic novel. From here on in the book is told backwards through time. At the beginning it is 2016, you find out that Robbie has been suffering form Alzheimer’s disease the couple are afraid and worried but Emily reassures her husband by saying “We will do what we always do, We’ll get through it, Robbie and I together” This is not the only thing they get through together as you read on through the ages of 1990, 1975, 1972 and 1962 you understand that the couple go through a lot together and by themselves, reading their lives and relationship in reverse.
As the years go by you understand why Emily’s family disowned her, a secret that Robbie has been keeping, and the tale of how these two got together even when things was not on their side. Despite their individual family traumas Robbie and Emily love each other through thick and thin, any challenge, drama, pain or sadness throughout the years they support and care for each other, they stay strong and they stay together.
I felt that the whole story was really captivating mainly because I was so invested in the characters, I wanted to know what happened to them, the desire and commitment between them was so beautiful until I got to the ending; at first it angered me, as it was so unexpected. I felt the entire book was ruined in one chapter but then realised this is exactly why Cohen had the timeline go backwards. If you were to read the book in chronological order you would have an entirely different opinion on Emily and Robbie’s relationship. I don’t want to give any spoilers but if you read this novel I urge you not to get angry at the ending. I think it completely turns the book on its head and was so unexpected but that’s why this romance novel appealed to me for its unique quality. Even after reading the ending my opinion didn’t change I still felt like this story can make you feel that love can conquer all.
I don’t think I would read this novel again, but Julie Cohen has certainly opened my eyes up to appreciating and enjoying a genre I believed I didn’t like. I will be happy to pick up more of Julie Cohen’s work, it has been so nice to pick up an “easy” “beach” read that still has depth, compelling characters and an interesting and unique storyline.
Have you read Together? What did you think of it? I would love to know your thoughts. Katie x