Reading Guides

You're (Not) the One
Alexandra Potter
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Venice, one of the world's most romantic cities, lives by the legend of the bridge of sighs: When a woman kisses the man of her dreams under the bridge at sunset, she will be together with him forever. So eighteen-year-old Lucy seals her fate in the blush of first love with Nate.

Yet ten years later, the pair has completely lost contact—until the day Lucy arrives at Nate's luxury Manhattan apartment with paintings he has purchased from the gallery where she is newly employed. The legend has reunited the couple, and Lucy is overjoyed—until the state of their union is misery.


Alexandra PotterAlexandra Potter was born in Yorkshire, England. Having lived in Los Angeles, Sydney, and London after university, she finally decided to settle where the sun is and now lives full-time in California. She has worked variously as a features editor and subeditor for women's magazines in the United Kingdom, and currently writes full-time.


Q. This novel is set in Venice and New York. How important was the setting to the story overall? What kind of research did you undertake before beginning to write?

The locations were absolutely crucial to the plot. The Bridge of Sighs is in Venice, Italy and I wanted the novel to open up in Venice, to show the two characters when they are first in love as teenagers. When I write I imagine each scene as if I am watching a movie, and I always imagined this novel opening up with the sounds, smells and colors of Venice. It was so evocative to me. It really brought out the whole dreamy, magical element of the novel. I then loved the idea of juxtaposing Venice, with the hustle and bustle of New York. As locations go, they are not only both geographically world's apart, but also atmospherically. To bring the magic of the Bridge of Sighs to New York, was both fun and interesting and made for some great scenes. In terms of research, I have spent a lot of time in New York in recent years, but I also made several trips over there during the course of the book, to research specific details. Lucy is English, and I loved the whole 'fish out of water' theme, seeing New York through fresh eyes, experiencing the buzz and excitement for the first time. As for Venice. I have been several times on vacation, though I had to resort to doing a lot of Googling, as sadly my schedule didn't allow me to take another trip out there.

Q. How do you begin to create the characters you write about? Do you have them fully fleshed out in your head before you begin to write, or do you find that they take shape over time? Did you have a favorite?

I take two or three months before I actually begin writing, to think about characters, plot storylines, and generally work out the message that I want to portray in the book. Characters are pretty well-formed when I finally type 'Chapter One', however it is only through the course of writing the novel that they truly become to real me. It is always the way that by the time I type 'The End' I have got to know my characters so well, I want to keep writing about them, and I hate leaving them. This is why I've often toyed with the idea of writing sequels, so I can hang out with them some more! As for favorites… I tend to fall in love with all my heroes, but I do think that Adam was a particular favorite of mine. The way he hires out a whole cinema for Lucy has to be one of the most romantic things I've ever had a hero do for my heroine. And would you believe it, but it's actually based on something a friend did for his girlfriend…

Q. This novel deals very closely with the idea of fate. Did you want readers to come away from the book feeling one way or another about fate, especially as it relates to meeting "the one"? Are you more like Lucy or Kate—do you believe in soul mates?

I am fascinated by the whole idea of fate and destiny. It's a theme that I go back to, time and time again, in all of my books. How one action can set your life on a totally different course, and whether or not that action is an 'accident' or is somehow predetermined in the stars… the feeling that everything happens for a reason… that it was meant to happen. The jury is still very much out for me. I am both Kate AND Lucy. One part of me is the romantic dreamer, the part who reads her horoscope, who believes in true love and fate and the mysterious power of the universe. And there is the other part of me that is a complete realist to the point of being a cynic, who pooh-poohs all this nonsense about soul mates and destiny.

Q. What are you working on now?

For the past year I have been writing my latest novel. It's another romantic comedy with a touch of magic, and the working title is 'The Do Over Diary' though this might change. It follows the character of Tess who lives in London and is heartbroken after her break-up with Seb, an American. The story begins on New Year's Eve and is all about love and second chances, about having the opportunity to do things over again, and about what happens when you find love, only to lose yourself.


  1. At the beginning of the novel, Lucy says that she believes that there is "one special person with whom [she] will spend the rest of [her] life." What do you think of this? Do you agree? What does the novel as a whole have to say about this theory—is there just one person out there for everyone, or not?

  2. Lucy explains that part of the reason she decided to move to New York was that she felt that, in London, she was just "waiting for something to happen." What do you make of her decision, based on the reasoning she gives? What does it tell you about her character? Have you ever felt compelled to do something similar?

  3. Lucy, Kate, and Robyn all take very different approaches to their love lives. Did you find yourself identifying with any one of them in particular? Did their positions on love change throughout the course of the novel? Do you think they influenced one another? What about you? Would you consider yourself a romantic or a realist?

  4. What were your first impressions of Nate when he and Lucy reunite? Was he what you imagined based on Lucy's earlier descriptions?

  5. How does the author start to indicate that Nate and Lucy may no longer be ideal mates for one another? When did you first start to get an inkling that this might be the case?

  6. Shortly after Lucy and Nate break up, they bump into one another on the street, and after they part ways again, Lucy says, "After all these years I've finally put him behind me, and this time there's no looking back." Do you have a sense at this point that she's wrong? What techniques does the author employ to foreshadow what's going to happen next?

  7. What did you make of the fact that Nate and Lucy had crossed paths many times before finally meeting again in New York? Do you think, like Lucy does, that it has something to do with the old man in Venice and the legend of the Bridge of Sighs? Lucy manages to meet the old street vendor in Venice once more at the end of the book. Considering what he says to her—and also what happens to her throughout the novel—do you think that there was any truth to the legend?

  8. How does the author use humor to endear her characters to the reader? Did you find any of the characters completely unfunny? If so, who? What purpose do you think the author might have intended this to serve?

  9. Nate and Lucy ultimately had very different interests—but then, so do Lucy and Adam. What's the difference? Why do you get the sense that one relationship will work out when the other clearly didn't?

  10. What do you make of Robyn's resistance to dating Daniel? Is she crazy to continue to wait for "Harold"? Do you think that's really the whole reason why her relationship with Daniel doesn't work at first? Or do you sense that there's something else at play?

  11. Do you think Lucy is an optimist or a pessimist? What about Magda, Kate, and Robyn? Nate and Adam? How does each character's outlook on life color their actions throughout the novel?

  12. Towards the close of the book, Lucy decides that there's no point in waiting around for "fate" any more. Was this how she felt at the beginning of the novel? Why do you think her feelings have changed? Consider her relationship with Nate, as well as Jeff's health problems and Robyn's preoccupation with "Harold."