About the book
If You Could Go Anywhere is published by Simon and Schuster and was available from 16th May 2019 in paperback and digital form.
HOW DO YOU FIND WHERE YOU’RE GOING, IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE FROM . . .
Angie has always wanted to travel. But at twenty-seven, she has barely stepped outside the small mining town where she was born. Instead, she discovers the world through stories told to her by passing travellers, dreaming that one day she’ll see it all for herself.
When her grandmother passes away, leaving Angie with no remaining family, she is ready to start her own adventures. Then she finds a letter revealing the address of the father she never knew, and realises instantly where her journey must begin: Italy.
As Angie sets out to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will mysterious and reckless Italian Alessandro help guide the way?
My goodness, If You Could Go Anywhere is an absolutely wonderful story; one of my favourites of the year! Writing this review has mostly consisted of me staring at a blank page for hours on end, wondering where I can find the words to sum it up…
If you could go anywhere, where would you go? That’s the question Angie has asked everyone since she was young. Living in the very remote town of Coober Pedy (in the Australian outback) she has a bedroom ceiling full of postcards from where others have visited and lived and has always wanted to follow in her late mothers footsteps by seeing the world…
That was her plan until her granddad died in an unfortunate mining accident and soon after her Nan developed dementia and Angie became her fulltime carer. Now at 27 and with her Nan’s passing she has nothing stopping her living those dreams. Whilst toasting to new adventures with her best friend, Angie finds a letter tucked away which sets sail to where her adventure should begin…
Italy – Rome!
If You Could Go Anywhere is the epitome of a page-turner; you begin this journey with Angie and you don’t want to stop for a single moment! I loved how this story was constructed; whilst discovering about Angie’s new life in Italy and joining her on her adventures, we’re also taken on a journey back, learning about what her life was like before that growing up with her grandparents. In doing this it also shows the huge contrast between Coober Pedy and Italy; two absolutely wonderful locations that draw you in, yet worlds apart in everyway. From the almost alien looking outback town of Coober Pedy; with it’s dust, quietness, dullness, and these mounds of earth where people are living in these underground dugouts, to a bustling, colourful and noisy Rome and all it’s Italian charm.
As a character Angie is one you instantly warm to; she’s caring, kind, strong, determined, incredibly selfless and just has a real love of people – what you see is what you get. Whereas Alessandro, who has a connection to Angie’s dad and guides Angie along in Italian life, by finding her a place to stay, being her tour-guide and friend is a much more complex character. He’s dark, striking and charming, but he’s incredibly frustrating at times, blowing hot and cold towards Angie – you instantly sense there’s hidden secrets, a darkness, vulnerability within him which adds a layer of mystery to the story. I really enjoyed their relationship developing; as I say, there were times I felt frustrated for Angie with his behaviour, but there were also some lovely playful and thoughtful moments between them.
Whilst travelling alongside Angie as she explores the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy, we’re not only provided with a beautiful story, all within a stunning backdrop, there’s also history to be learnt. I’ve said it many times, but I adore Italy, despite never (yet) been, I’ve fallen in love with it more and more through reading, so, If You Could Go Anywhere tickled all my buds! Toon not only takes us to the touristy spots, but she opens your eyes to little hidden gems, her descriptions are detailed and alongside looking at photos on google I felt I was really there and did honestly learn and discover things. And whilst I say her writing is detailed in descriptions, what I should also add is that by no means turns this book into a tourist guide – she balances it out perfectly with just the right amount of detail to immerse you, but never letting the story take a back-step. The same goes for Coober Pedy – what a gem! I’d never even heard of this place (Geography is not my strong point) where people lived in caves (actual caves!), there were hotels to stay in in caves, I was dazzled, straight over to my friend google and then researching how much it’d cost me to go stay there!! I loved the sense of community I got from this place and again, steeped in history of Australia’s opal mining industry – I particularly enjoyed how the opal story was also blended into Angie’s story. THANK YOU Paige Toon for opening my eyes to so much.
Those with smaller roles in this story also make a big impression, from Angie’s eccentric father Giulio, to her housemate/friend Christina and waiter Stefano – as does Serafina’s the family restaurant – which also adds much charm and provides for some very memorable and humorous moments! My time in the little restaurant (which could give a soap opera a run for it’s money at times!) and with these secondary characters always brought a smile to my face.
Whilst If You Could Anywhere oozes out joy, charm and adventures galore, there’s another layer to the story which takes the reader to incredibly dark places at times. Toon explores alzheimer’s, depression, grief, mental health and suicide; that lack of self worth and guilt that slowly suffocates you. The events near to the end of this story really had my heart leaping out of my chest!
A book about family, friendship, travel, love, forgiving others and most importantly, forgiving yourself. From Australia’s Coober Pedy, to Rome, Tivoli, Pompeii, Venice, Bologna and Florence, to Norway and the Goreme National Park in Turkey; this book is one HUGE adventure and one I’m sad to be saying goodbye to.
I ADORED every moment of this uplifting, inspiring, heart-wrenching, beautifully romantic story. If You Could Go Anywhere is gorgeous storytelling that’s filled with characters you take to your heart and charming settings; it will fill your senses to the brim and take you on a journey uncovering the deepest of emotions and rawest of feelings, making it Paige Toon at her absolute best!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. As always, a little like or share to spread the word is always most appreciated, and if you like the sound of If You Could Go Anywhere then do follow the below links to purchase a copy for yourself…
About the author
Paige Toon grew up between England, Australia and America and has been writing books set in sun-drenched locations around the world since 2007. She has written thirteen novels and a three-part spin-off series for young adults. Her novels have sold over a million copies worldwide.