You Me Everything is the first novel I wrote as Catherine Isaac – I had been published for more than a decade previously under the pseudonym Jane Costello. It’s about a single mother called Jess, who sets off with her ten-year-old son William to spend a summer in the Dordogne, where her ex-boyfriend Adam – William’s father – runs a restored chateau as a hotel. The trip is not merely a holiday. Jess is fulfilling the wishes of her mother who, in the late stages of Huntington’s disease, is determined that William needs a father in his life.
The idea for the story had come to me after someone I know discovered that his own mum had been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a genetic disorder that causes the death of brain cells, leading to problems with movement, memory, cognitive skills and behavioural changes. Every child of a patient has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene that causes it, which has grave implications not just for individuals, but entire families.
The novel has been something of a departure for me as my previous books were all romantic comedies. While there is still humour in the story, this was the first time I’d tackled such an important and challenging theme. The more research I did into the condition and the families affected by it, the more certain I was that this would be a novel whose central theme wasn’t merely a disease, but hope, family and the transformative power of love.
The novel has been translated into twenty-one languages and, most excitingly, a movie is in development by Lionsgate, with a script by Robert Nelson Jacobs, who wrote the Oscar-nominated script for Chocolat.