Blog tour: 13 to 26 January 2020
You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?
Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.
But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run.
Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.
For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.
And so begins a new mix tape.
Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything …
Because what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?
Mix Tape tells the story of Alison Connor and Daniel Lawrence, who met in Sheffield late in 1978 when they were 16 and 18 respectively. Sharing an avid interest in music, they got on really well and Alison was soon spending lots of time with Daniel and his family, especially his pigeon-fancying dad, to try and get away from a difficult home life with her mother, Catherine, and her brother, Peter, as well as Martin Baxter, Catherine’s horrible on/off boyfriend.
Alison and Daniel’s romance blossomed and he wooed her with mix tapes of his favourite songs and took her to watch his beloved Sheffield Wednesday play.
Being a rather private person, Alison hid the truth from Daniel about her difficult relationship with her alcoholic mother and, after things came to a head, with a few shocking incidents, she decided to flee, leaving everyone behind, and devastating Daniel, who took several years to recover from her disappearance.
Over 30 years later, Ali is a bestselling author, now living in Adelaide with husband, Michael McCormack, and they have two daughters, Thea and Stella. Dan is a freelance music journalist who lives in Edinburgh with partner, Katelin, and they have a son called Alex. Dan also owns a canal boat in London called Crazy Diamond.
After a chance encounter on Twitter, Ali and Dan get back in touch and start exchanging songs and, before long, things happen that they are powerless to resist. They’re drawn together and it all starts to get really complicated and fraught!
Told in two timelines and alternating between Ali and Dan’s stories, we piece together everything that has happened to the pair over the years in the build up to current events and it was interesting to see things from each of their perspectives and learn how the past had shaped their lives, and discover more about their partners, children and extended families.
I was emotionally involved in the story and really hoping that things would work out satisfactorily for both Ali and Dan, with as little heartache as possible to all concerned. I really felt for Ali and her brother after all the traumas that they had experienced in their childhood.
I loved all the characters in this book; such an interesting mix of people and experiences and all really well described and written about. Each had their part to play in the story and there was an interesting contrast between life in Adelaide and in Sheffield, Edinburgh and London.
Though I didn’t always agree with Ali and Dan’s actions, it was a touching story and I was in tears a few times by the end! Such a difficult situation to be in and hard to know what to do for the best, especially with other family members to consider.
I’m not an expert music fan but I really liked all the references to the different songs and how important music was to both protagonists. I read the book in paperback and hadn’t listened to the Mix Tape playlist but I’m currently my writing my blog post with it playing in the background. I’m keen to research all the music mentioned in the book too!
Overall, I really enjoyed this nostalgic, thought-provoking contemporary romance, which made me reminisce about songs before my era, as well as remember those I was around to hear at the time. It’s really intriguing to think about the different paths your life can take, depending on how things work out and what you choose to do. Fascinating!
Buy the book
Listen as you read!
Dan and Ali’s mix tape playlist is on Spotify: bit.ly/MixTapePlaylist
(This book is not affliated with, authorised or endorsed by Spotify AB or any Spotify group companies.)
About the author
Jane Sanderson is a former BBC Radio 4 producer, whose first novel, Netherwood, was published in 2011. She drew on much of her family’s background for this historical novel, which is set in a fictional mining town in the coalfields of Yorkshire.
Ravenscliffe and Eden Falls followed in the two subsequent years, then in the early summer of 2017, This Much Is True was published, marking a change in direction for the author. It is a contemporary tale of dog walks and dark secrets and the lengths a mother will go to protect her family.
Jane has poured much of her own story into Mix Tape; from the boyfriend who gifted her a mix tape introducing her to the likes of Van Morrison, to the carefully curated playlist (featured in the book), which includes songs that have helped to shape her life and pay homage to her own youth.
Jane lives in Herefordshire with her husband, the journalist and author Brian Viner. They have three children.
Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my proof copy of Mix Tape and for my place on the blog tour.
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