Review: The No-Show by Beth O'Leary


Title: The No-Show
Author: Beth O'Leary 
Date of publication: 12 April 2022
Genre: Women's Fiction, UK setting 

Author's links:

My rating: 3 stars


Three women. Three dates. One missing man...

8.52. Siobhan's been looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it - she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast with Joseph on Valentine's Day surely means something ... so where is he?

14.43. Miranda's hoping that a Valentine's Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It's a fresh start and a sign that her grown-up life is finally falling into place: she's been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn't he shown up?

18.30. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane's fake boyfriend at a colleague's engagement party. They've not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he's not here...

Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.

The No-Show is the brilliantly funny, heart-breaking and joyful new novel from Beth O'Leary about dating, and waiting, and the ways love can find us. An utterly extraordinary tearjerker of a book, this is O'Leary's most ambitious novel yet.


Prefacing this review to say that I read an eARC of the UK edition, so I went in expecting women's fiction and this is pretty much what I got. I will into more details about this towards the end of my review.

I will keep my review vague to avoid spoilers because this story relies on the unexpected and the reader needs to figure things for themselves as the story develops,.

This was a first for me by this author and I found it very readable with strong mystery/suspense element. It is masterfully written with an interesting choice of story-telling, keeping the reader questioning, guessing, trying to figure out what is happening. I liked the disjointed timeline, the unreliability of all the narrators kept me guessing and I was completely engrossed in the story.

I found all the characters to be very well drawn, with strong, distinctive voice, each of them on its own unique journey. Joseph, on the other hand, remained elusive till the final section of the book. It was done on purpose to keep the mystery but it also made it harder for me to relate to him.

I really, really liked the women's stories, different but also similar in their focus on love/family/professional success. They were touching stories about wanting, and loving, the curveballs life throws at us and the way we dodge or take them head on.

At the center of it all were the lies we tell - to others and to ourselves, the time we stay silent for our own sake or for others and ultimately gaining the strength to speak up.

After this praise, I have come to the point near the end that completely threw me off and I couldn't quite accept it. Spoilers ahead:

A main characters dies tragically and then the timelines come together to focus on the hero. I didn't see it coming and I wish the author made a different choice regarding this character. It was framed as necessary for the overall story to happen but deep down it felt wrong to me to kill a main character struggling with mental illness just when they were on the mend and seeing a path forward towards the future they wanted. I felt cheated, this death tainted the HEA for the other characters.

I still want to read more from this author, it is just that I had different expectations of this book based on the blurb.

Now, I want to discuss the marketing of this book. The US blurb describes it as "cute romcom" and I feel this disingenuous and misleading, even harmful to the romance readers. I didn't find the story funny beside a couple of jokes here and there but humour is subjective and I don't want to debate the comedy aspect. My issue is that this story despite being very emotional and moving, exploring different romantic relationships, is not a romance because there is no HEA for all MCs.

CW: mental breakdown, sexual predator, manipulation, side character with dementia, death of an MC

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