In The Rehearsals by Annette Christie, Megan and Tom are finally getting married after twelve years together. They’re sure that this is what they want, but with their difficult families, not to mention the things they’ve been keeping from each other, things quickly get complicated. It all comes to a head at their rehearsal dinner, and they end up calling off the wedding. The next morning, however, they wake up stuck together in a time loop. They start to wonder if they’ll be trapped in the same day forever—but also wonder what will happen if they do get to tomorrow.
I listened to the audiobook of this, and it was excellent! I liked having two people—Amanda Troop and Will Collyer—as the narrators; they did a great job.
As main characters, Megan and Tom both have lots of personality. They’re complex and layered, and though they’ve made mistakes, I was still rooting for them. I liked the nuance that Christie brought to their relationship. There are no easy answers to the problems in their relationship, and their resentments and miscommunications feel very real. Yet at the same time, the affection and love they have for each other is evident, and that’s what keeps the reader (well, me at least) invested in seeing them work together.
The other characters are good, in a Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice kind of way. Many of them are a bit frustrating or stuck up, but no one feels like a caricature. Sure, I kind of wanted to smack Leo sometimes, but he (and everyone else) still was given depth.
The Groundhog Day nature of this premise made me worry that the story would feel tedious and repetitive, but Christie executed this idea well, keeping each repeat of the day fresh by having Megan and Tom choose to go different places or to react in different ways. As each day passed, their development furthered, bringing them by turns closer together or farther apart. It didn’t feel repetitive at all.
Naturally, this isn’t really an action-heavy story, as it’s mostly based on character development, and the slow revelation of drama and emotions. However, if you like that kind of story, you’ll probably find this pretty compelling. It does tackle topics like growing up with disappointing parents, whether due to emotional immaturity or cold indifference. It also goes into infidelity and lack of communication, which can sometimes be hard to watch, especially when you care about the characters. But Christie never makes any of this too heavy, and it’s always through the lens of facing one’s flaws in order to improve and grow.
In the end, The Rehearsals was a wonderful book. There’s a little too much telling rather than showing at the beginning, but once the time loops start, it’s great. The characters are good, especially Megan and Tom. The intricacy of their relationship, and their relationships with their friends and family, is really well done. This book hammers home the idea that in order to make a bond work with another person, you have to choose them, time and time again, and be willing to improve yourself to make life with them better. In the end, this isn’t just a story about romance, but about love in all its forms. It’s funny and sweet, melancholy and dramatic, and a fantastic summer read.
Overall rating: 8.6/10
As I mentioned, I listened to the audio, which I got advance access to because of my job, but The Rehearsals will be published on July 13th, 2021!