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See what our Friends of Bookends reviewers had to say about The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper!


This is a gem of a novel. The theme is of love and loss, is explored brilliantly. Emma Cooper encapsulates the raw emotions of grief and  pure joy in her main characters, and her supporting characters add warmth and humour.

Alternating between Sophie and Samuel viewpoints, the author reveals how misconceptions lead to missed opportunities. Unlike other ‘will-they-won’t-they’ scenarios, with flimsy reasons why the characters are at odds with one another, this novel deals with realistic reasons, not too contrived.

Running in a parallel timeframe, means you know how events are misunderstood.

The scene Samuel witnesses between Sophie, Charlie and Bean is heartbreaking.

Naming ‘Bean’  and Samuel humanising ‘Michael’ was cleverly done, drawing comparisons.

Also, clever, was allowing the reader to picture Sophie watching a black and white film whilst her own life had turned from technicolour to monochrome 

Accidents play a pivoted role and binds the central protagonists together.

There are scenes of heart retching moments, which are off set by lighter, humourous, moments supplied by Samuel’s relations. 

Notably, Da, is really vividly funny whilst Ma and Sarah add a more sober view of Samuel’s situation.

Charlie entrance is unexpected, but a vital addition, brings really depth of emotion.

Layer on layer loss and love are applied leaving the reader switching between hope and desperation, laughter and tears.

Acuminlating to fever pitch, the final  pages left me gasping.

‘A belter of a read!’


If I were to sum up The First Time I Saw You it would be ‘a big smile of a book…albeit one with a tear in its eye.’ This is an emotional, twisty-turny story with characters who vibrate with colour and personality.

Sophie and Samuel meet in Washington DC and have a whirlwind week-long romance. A misunderstanding causes them to part and their lives both change in drastic ways. This pretty much happens within the first third of the book and the rest sees our star-crossed lovers trying to find their way back to each other, in what at times seems like a game of trans-Atlantic
tag (or maybe kiss-chase would be more appropriate.)

Emma Cooper has found just the right amount of romance and tragedy. Just when you think the story is becoming too slushy or melodramatic, one of the characters (usually Samuel or his Dad) make a comment which genuinely would make me laugh out loud.

I found Samuel’s parents to be the stand-out characters and they made the story for me. Perhaps they were a tad stereotypically Irish, but I looked forward to the scenes with them in it and they really brought the story to life. If I had one criticim, it would be that perhaps there were too many ‘near-misses’ when Sophie and Samuel just miss each other, or some misunderstanding keeps them apart for longer. However, this could just be that I was desperate for them to get to together and didn’t want to wait any more!

I was sorry to finish this book, it felt like I was leaving new friends. I will look forward to more from Emma Cooper.