If You Could See Me Now (Cecelia Ahern novel)

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If You Could See Me Now
First edition cover
Author Cecelia Ahern
Country Ireland
Language English
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
November 2005
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 336 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-00-721225-9 (paperback edition)
OCLC 62204659
Preceded by Where Rainbows End
Followed by A Place Called Here

If You Could See Me Now is Irish writer Cecelia Ahern's third novel, published in November 2005 (UK and Ireland)/ January 2006 (US). It has been published in the United States as "A Silver Lining'".

A film adaptation of the book is in progress.

Plot summary[edit]

Trapped in the stifling, small Irish town Baile na gCroíth, Elizabeth Egan had always been known as a serious woman, never laughing at jokes or taking joys from the simplest pleasure of life. This is due to having been abandoned by her free-spirited mother when she was young and was forced to grow up quickly to take care of her sister, Saoirse.

Taking advantage of Elizabeth's sense of responsibility, Saoirse has led life with abandonment, and when she gives birth to a son, Luke, she leaves Elizabeth to take care of him.

At the age of six, Luke claims to have a friend named Ivan whom Elizabeth cannot see. Though at first she is exasperated with this imaginary friend, she starts playing along with Luke when she learns that imaginary friends will only last about 3 months.

Though invisible to most, Ivan is real. Only Luke and Saoirse can see him, though he comes to realise that Elizabeth can feel his presence. Knowing that only people who are in real need of a friend are able to see him, he follows Elizabeth around. When, suddenly, she is able to see him, Ivan is delighted, but disappointed just as quickly when she thinks him to be the father of one of Luke's friends. A friendship which soon turns into romance blossoms between them.

Elizabeth meets Benjamin at work, and he asks her to dinner, but Ivan prevents her from going by inviting her out instead. Ivan's boss, Opal, sees his love for Elizabeth and tells him her own sad tale. She tells him that however much he wishes to be with Elizabeth a time will come when she will no longer be able to see him and will eventually age while he would remain young. However, Ivan is too much in love with Elizabeth and refuses to listen. To convince him, Opal takes him to see her own love, who has become an 80 year old man while Opal has remained young.

One day, when Elizabeth is hosting a party, she is no longer able to see Ivan for a while and he realises it is time to move on to a new friend. Ivan visits Elizabeth one last time while she sleeps, explaining why he has to go. Elisabeth thinks it was a dream. A few days later, Elizabeth realizes that it wasn't and that Ivan was Luke's 'imaginary' friend.

They go their separate ways, and not only Elizabeth but Ivan as well are changed by the experience. Elizabeth is more relaxed and Ivan admits that Elizabeth has been by far his favorite friend...

Characters in "If You Could See Me Now"[edit]

  • Elizabeth Egan, a 34-years old interior designer who lives with her nephew Luke in a small city in Ireland. Elizabeth's life started quite sadly as her mother ran out of home when she was young, leaving her alone with her father and her little sister, Saoirse. Elizabeth finally left her home when she went to college and then started a career in the design business but always missed opportunities in her career and her private life because she keeps on looking after Saoirse, trying to keep her from making the same mistakes their mother did and to help her the best she could, like flying home from New York to take care of her or by raising her sister's son Luke. Elizabeth is not very patient and not very tender as she as always kept most of her personal feelings to herself. And she is at first extremely upset by the fact Luke has an invisible friend, thinking he is going crazy. But as she starts seeing Ivan as well and is finally falling in love with him, she suddenly realizes that she has to start enjoying her life and not just going through it. She also reflects on a lot of past feelings and memories. As Ivan finally leaves because he is afraid that their love would be too complicated, Elizabeth has come to feel at home in the city, enjoys now some simple pleasures of life, starts to appreciate taking care of Luke and succeeds professionally with the design of a big hotel.
  • Ivan, Luke's "imaginary" friend who Elizabeth misunderstood for Sam's father, before she falls in love with him. Ivan is also in love with Elizabeth but the gap between their two worlds finally puts an end to their relationship. A carefree and always joyful person, Ivan is said to be about Elizabeth's age and wear at first always the same clothes - a T-Shirt, blue-jeans and Converse blue shoes before he wears a dark-coloured suit for his first dinner date with Elizabeth. Ivan always find new funny and odd things to do like jumping around in dandelions field, playing in the rain, dancing on the sand or throwing cups of coffee in the city street to wake up the people. He is a very sweet and tender person, but also very innocent.
  • Luke, a 6-years old very imaginative little boy and Saoirse's son. Luke is imaginative and full of energy. He has a free and wild personality that he certainly got from his mother. If he is, at first, terribly upset that Elizabeth makes fun of Ivan that she can't see yet, he then looks less attached to his invisible friend as Elizabeth gets closer to him. He has a best friend named Sam.
  • Saoirse is Elizabeth's younger sister. She is 22 as the novel starts. Her name means "freedom". She lives a crazy life, spending her days drinking and wandering around. She got pregnant of Luke at only 16 from an unknown boy. Elizabeth took her under her wing during all her life, trying to raise her the best she could but somehow was disappointed with the result of her education as Saoirse is everything but a reasonable grown-up. She is even able to see Ivan at one point where Elizabeth can't even see him. Her fate is left unexplained at the end of the novel as she totally disappears from the city after having been arrested for driving drunk.
  • Opal is the head of the "imaginary friends" association. She looks terribly young and at first always relaxed and calm but hide a terrible secret. She was once in love with a real man who she had to be the "imaginary friend" but the differences between them - especially the fact that she didn't age at all when he grew older - made them separate even if she tried to keep on taking care of him. Now an old man of 80, this man named Geoffrey finally dies of an illness, realizing before passing away the presence of Opal still next to him.
  • Benjamin is Elizabeth co-worker. An American, he travelled to Ireland because his boss, Vincent Taylor, an hotel manager has planned to decorate his new hotel in the small city. If at first, he is very puzzled by how Elizabeth is acting, as she speaks to an invisible person, he soon feel some feelings for her especially after watching her dancing in a field of dandelions at dawn with Luke (and also Ivan but he was not able to see him). We don't clearly know what will happen between him and Elizabeth but it looks pretty clear by Benjamin's thoughts that he is caring a lot about her and that they have a lot in common - meaning it could be the start of a romantic relationship between them.
  • Brendan is Elizabeth's and Saoirse's father. A severe man, he still cares deeply for his daughters, even if he still grieves of his wife's behaviour and of how she left him.
  • Grainne is Elizabeth's and Saoirse's mother. She got married to Brendan at 16 and couldn't stand the boring and secluded life she led as a married woman and a mother at the farm, occasionally running away for weeks to go party and live a free life. It is revealed later in the book that Grainne was an alcoholic and that once, to see her mother again, Elizabeth found her drunk, singing songs at the local pub. Elizabeth's aunt tried unsuccessfully to take care of her - a fact that brings a parallel to Elizabeth and Saoirse similar situation. It seems that Grainne finally died, probably because of her addiction to alcohol as the narrator mentioned she was the only one out of her, Elizabeth and Saoirse, that could never come back to Brendan's home.
  • Vincent Taylor is a rich and expansive American hotel manager who, even if he is mostly interested in making money, is searching actively for someone original to design the decoration of his hotel. He finally chooses Elizabeth when she starts to speak to Ivan in his office (because he can't see Ivan, Vincent think she is crazy), thinking she could be as good as Vincent Van Gogh as she looks "not far from cutting her ear".
  • Joe is the manager of the local coffee shop where Elizabeth goes to buy her usual morning coffee before heading to the office.
  • Becca is Elizabeth's 17-years old assistant at her office and a calm and intelligent girl.
  • Poppy is Elizabeth's other assistant, a funny and original 25-years old young woman who always wants to paint things in bright and vivid colors. She also loves to create new objects or inventions.
  • Sam is Luke's best friend. He is soon tired of Luke being friend with Ivan as he is not able to see him himself.
  • Fiona is Sam's mother and at first, Elizabeth think she is Ivan's wife or girlfriend as she misunderstood him for Sam's father (because once, Ivan arrives to her place just as she is waiting for Luke's best friend's father to take his own son home). It's her who suddenly makes Elizabeth realize her mistake as she tells her that she was never able to see Ivan and that she thinks Luke would stop seeing him in about a month as it happened to Sam when he had an imaginary friend.