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The Seven Year Slip

Recap, Summary & Spoilers

The Full Book Recap and Chapter-by-Chapter Summary for The Seven Year Slip by Ashley Poston are below.

Quick(-ish) Recap

The four-paragraph version: Clementine is a book publicist who inherits her aunt's apartment after she passes away, knowing her aunt's claims that the apartment has the magical ability to transport its inhabitants back in time by exactly seven years, though it's unpredictable. Clementine is skeptical until the apartment reverts back in time one day, and a stranger, Iwan, is there. He says he has permission to stay there for the summer. Clementine and Iwan soon fall for one another, but the apartment soon reverts to current-day.

At work, Clementine is given the task of bringing in a potentially bestselling author, a handsome and well-known restauranteur, known as James Ashton. It turns out to be Iwan, which is his middle name. Iwan remembers her but is unsure how Clementine feels now, and Clementine doesn't understand why Iwan never came to find her. As her publishing house engages in the bidding process for Iwan's upcoming cookbook and he opens a new restaurant, Clementine sees how Iwan has changed and misses the man she fell for.

Eventually, Clementine realizes that she needs to accept Iwan as the person that he is today, and Clementine understands why it wouldn't have made sense for him to come find her. And when Clementine sees Iwan-from-seven-years-ago again, she tells him the truth about what's been happening and tells him to wait seven years for her. She doesn't want him to go looking for her now, because she knows that she was a different person seven years ago and it wouldn't make sense for him to try to be with the early twenties version of herself who was still figuring herself out. Clementine is also inspired to quit her job and pursue something more meaningful for her.

When Clementine sees present-day Iwan again, he tells her that he has changed but also that he appreciates the reminder of who he once was. He tells her he loves her, and she says it back. Then, Clementine and Iwan embark on the beginning of something new.

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Chapter-by-Chapter Summary

A Beginning: My Darling Clementine

Clementine remembers when she was eight, that her Aunt Analea had told her the apartment she lived in, a century-old building on the Upper East Side, was magical and not in a metaphorical sense.

Chapter 1: Publishers Lunch

Today, Clementine, 29, is with her friends having a long lunch at Olive Branch, a Michelin-starred restaurant in SoHo. Drew talks about how he’s interested in getting the head chef here, James Ashton, to publish a book with them.

Fiona and Drew Torres are a married couple. Fiona, who is seven months pregnant, is the best in-house designer at Strauss & Adder publishing house, while Drew recently became senior editor there. Clementine also works for the same publishing house in publicity. She works under Rhonda Adder, the director of marketing and publicity, who is also co-publisher.

As they chat, Clementine mentions how she and the guy she’s seeing, Nate, broke things off. Nate was a metalworker, amd she had skipped the opening night of his gallery where some of his work was being displayed in order to do some work. He told her she was too closed off and broke things off.

Clementine’s aunt passed away six months ago and she still struggles with it each time she walks into the apartment, which her aunt left to her. She suspects that some of the excursions Drew has planned lately is to help distract her from her grief. Clementine gets a message and needs to leave. As she hurries out, she almost runs into someone, who says something about “lemon” which is the dessert they ordered. Afterwards, she thinks about how it seemed like the guy thought he knew her.

Chapter 2: Strauss & Adder

Clementine heads back into the office, and when Fiona returns, she tells Clementine that the head chef is the man that she ran into on her way out.

When she drops by Rhonda’s office, Rhonda asks Clementine why she rescinded her vacation request. Clementine thinks to herself that it’s because it was for an annual trip that she and her aunt used to take, but she doesn’t say that. Rhona encourages Clementine to take some time off. Clementine tries to argue, but Rhona tells her the recission is denied.

Rhonda then drops the bombshell that she’s planning on retiring at the end of the summer. She says she wants Clementine to take the lead on most projects this summer as a dry run to see how she does. She says if it goes well, then Clementine would become their new Director of Publicity and someone else would take over the marketing work that Rhonda currently oversees. Rhonda tells her it’s going to be a lot of work, so she thinks it’ll be good for Clementine to take a vacation beforehand.

Chapter 3: Home Sweet Home

On her way home from work, Clementine calls her parents and tells them the news about Rhonda. When she arrives to her aunt’s apartment which now belongs to her, the doorman Earl greets her. She makes her way to unit B4 and falls asleep, exhausted.

Chapter 4: Strangers in a Strange Time

When Clementine wakes up, she sees there’s a man in her apartment. He says that his mom is a friend of her aunt’s. He says her aunt agreed to let him sublet the apartment for the summer.

Clementine takes a look at the note that he has with him, handwritten by her aunt. She’s confused because the note mentions Mrs. Norris who lived in the building but died three years ago. He claims he spoke to her aunt last week.

Looking around, she gets even more confused, seeing a calendar that’s seven years old and all her stuff is not there. Instead, all her aunt’s things are there including stuff that was destroyed or thrown out years ago. She asks where her aunt is and he says Norway.

She remembers her aunt saying that the apartment is magical and runs out.

Chapter 5: The Time-Share

Clementine thinks back to her aunt telling her that the apartment bends time but only in increments of seven years. The first time it happened to her aunt, she had just bought the apartment. When she went in though it was fully furnished and a woman named Vera was living there, who seemed unperturbed by the presence of a stranger in her home. Vera offered to let her stay for dinner while she explained what was going on.

When she returned, the apartment was back to normal. But a few months later, she saw the woman again and this time she allowed her to explain. Her aunt came to love Vera, and she eventually admits that she wanted to marry her. She thought that she could find her, but by the time she did, Vera was different. Vera wanted a family and her aunt wanted to travel. Vera moved on and had two kids.

Her aunt always told her to never fall in love in this apartment, since no one here ever stays.

Chapter 6: Second Chances

When Clementine returns to the apartment, it’s still seven years ago. She tries leaving and coming back, but the guy is still there. Finally, Clementine tells him that he can stay, but that she needs to stay, too, since her apartment is out of commission.

He offers to cook them dinner, and introduces himself as Iwan.

Chapter 7: Better Acquainted

As he cooks, Clementine asks if he’s a chef, and Iwan admits that he dropped out of college to attend the Culinary Institute of America. He’s 26. He says he’s planning on taking a job at a pretty famous restaurant as a dishwasher in hopes of getting his foot in the door.

He playfully calls her “Lemon” instead of Clementine, and he introduces her to each of his knives. He then says he’s going to make fajitas.

Chapter 8: Romance in Chocolate

The dinner is delicious, and Iwan talks about how he got his love of cooking from his grandfather. They hear the sounds of Mrs. Norris playing her violin elsewhere in the building, and Iwan invites Clementine to dance.

Clementine feels happy, but she’s reminded that this won’t, and can’t, end well.

Chapter 9: First Impressions

Clementine tells him that with them both staying here, she doesn’t think anything should happen between them. Iwan quickly says that he wasn’t expecting anything to, and Clementine starts cleaning up.

They both agree that they can share the queen bed without issues so neither of them need to be sleeping on the couch.

Chapter 10L (Sub)liminal Spaces

In the morning, it’s still seven years ago, and Iwan is out interviewing for his dishwashing job. Clementine decides to do some painting with her watercolors.

Chapter 11: Burn, Baby, Burn

Around 5PM, Iwan returns to the apartment. Clementine is in the bath. When she gets out, Iwan is cooking dinner and accidentally burns himself when he sees her. She suggests putting butter on it, which is what her mother used to do.

He suggests preparing a frozen pizza for dinner since he’s making dessert tonight.

Chapter 12: The Moon and More

As the pie Iwan made bakes in the oven, they have frozen pizza and he asks her about her day. She talks about painting, and she’s relieved when he understands that she doesn’t want to show him because it’s something that she does for herself.

Iwan has her make whipped cream, and he uses it to top off a key lime pie instead of using meringue, since he says meringue has always been his downfall.

Iwan then asks if he can kiss her, and Clementine says yes. They kiss for a while, but Clementine stops things from going further. She doesn’t know how to explain the situation to him. Instead she apologizes and asks if they can just talk instead, and he agrees.

Chapter 13: Back to the Grind

The next morning, Clementine heads out to work and runs into Drew and Fiona in the elevator who talk about how she didn’t respond to any texts this weekend. She attends a meeting, but her mind is far away, wondering what Iwan is up to now.

Chapter 14: Seven Years Too Late

Clementine is busy with work that day, but she tells Fiona that she thinks she met someone this weekend. She realizes she doesn’t even know his last name though.

She’s excited to go back to the apartment, but when she returns, Iwan is gone. Things have gone back to normal, and all her stuff is back. She settles in, disappointed and lonely.

Chapter 15: Timeless

Clementine looks for him at first, but as the summer drags on, she realizes it might be time to let him go. Fourth of July weekend, Drew and Fiona have a date for Clementine, Elliot Donovan, who is a nice guy that lives in their building. Elliot joins the three of them for a double-date.

However, at one point, both Elliot and Clementine admit that this isn’t really working out and they both still have their hearts set on someone else. They decide to pretend to get into a fight so they have an excuse not to see each other, and they end up getting into a fake argument over the book Dune.

On the subway home, two girls next to Clementine gossip about a well-known restauranteur that a gossip website has reported is recently single again.

Chapter 16: Life Goes On

In the middle of July, Drew excitedly announces that the chef James Ashton has submitted a proposal for a book, and that he’s going to be in the office tomorrow to discuss it. His agent has let them know that he’s shopping it around at various imprints, but Drew is hopeful.

Back in the office, Rhonda says that it’s important they lock down James Ashton since they’ve just lost one of their big authors, Basil Ray, to another publisher. They need a big hit next summer and she wants her to take the lead with Drew in reeling him in.

Chapter 17: Lost and Found

To prep for the meeting, Drew advises that Clementine read the article that Ashton wrote about his experiences for Eater, which she found so affecting. Drew thinks that Ashton’s book should be a memoir and not a cookbook, but she wants it either way.

As Clementine reads the article, there’s a feeling of familiarity in the words. Her head starts to spin as she sees the photograph attached to the article — it’s Iwan.

Chapter 18: Another You

According to Google and the article, Iwan worked as a dishwasher for only a month at Olive Branch before becoming a line cook, and the head chef, Albert Gauthier, took an interest in him and took him under his wing. Gauthier retired two years ago and handed the reins off to Iwan, or James as he’s now known.

James was the man Clementine had run into that day at Olive Branch. Clementine wonders if he remembered her and why James never tried to find her.

The meeting is the next morning, and the second she sees him she speechless. The memories of kissing him come rushing back.

Chapter 19: The Proposal

Clementine regains her senses and James explains that his friends call him by his middle name, Iwan. As James makes his proposal, Drew talks about the Eater article and how he’d like to incorporate that type of writing into the cookbook.

Clementine notes that the proposal before her sounds nothing like the passionate man she once met in that apartment. All his warmth and care had been replaced with a “stilted polish”.

Lauren, his agent, then explains that they are hoping to do the bidding process a little different. They are asking for bids tomorrow, but then they want to do a cooking class with them to see how the publishing teams work together.

Before he leaves, he tells Clementine that it was good to see her again and refers to her as “Lemon”, indicating that he remembers her.

Chapter 20: Berried Alive

That night, Clementine is with Fiona and Drew and Juliette, another one of their co-workers, but she’s distracted, looking up James Aston’s profile on Instagram instead. Juliette teases Clementine about her crush.

Chapter 21: Broken Doors

The next day, they get the news that James Ashton’s agent rejected their bid. They wouldn’t even make it to the second round. Drew looks defeated. Clementine knows they put in a healthy bid and Drew is always like-able, so she’s certain the rejection had to do with her.

Rhonda, too, is very upset that the big was rejected outright. She also says that Lauren had flat-out said that pretty much everyone would make it to the second round.

Clementine leaves to go home early — and finds Iwan at her apartment again.

Chapter 22: Unsolicited Advice

Iwan is delighted to see that she’s back and ask how things have been at her apartment. He’s made some food and offers her some. He tells her that he got the dishwasher job, and he’s going to apply for a line cook position soon. He also tells her about the restaurant he’d like to open someday.

Clementine tells him about losing a bid and asks what he thinks he would do in that situation. Iwan encourages her to try to convince the guy. Clementine kisses him and leaves.

Chapter 23: Main Course of Action

She takes a cab down to the Olive Branch to go talk to James Ashton. Everyone tries to stop her from going to the kitchen to find him, but Clementine is undeterred. She wants to talk to him, but he tells her that his decision is final. Clementine keeps insisting.

He asks her if them working together is really a good idea, and he says that he didn’t think she wanted to work with him. However, Clementine says that she didn’t think he wanted to see her — she mentions that he never came looking for her in seven years.

He agrees to allow them back into the bidding process.

Chapter 24: An Unwanted Gift

Drew is delighted when she finds out they’re still in the bidding process for James Aston’s book.

At work, Clementine gets a package from her aunt that must’ve been sent before she died and lost in the mail. Seeing the package, she thinks back to learning that her aunt had passed away, and she thinks about how despite how alive her aunt had been there’d been a monster lurking over her shoulder that caused her to die by suicide.

Upset, she throws away the package in the trash. When Clementine returns two hours later, she sees that the package is gone.

Chapter 25: Best in Show

Soon, the day of the cooking class arrives. James is patient and kind to everyone as he walks them through the cooking class, but Clementine notes a certain distance and lack of warmth. Clementine and Drew still have a great time though their ravioli comes out looking a little ugly.

Afterwards, everyone leaves, but Clementine sticks around. She goes to talk to James who asks if she’s hungry.

Chapter 26: Washington Square Arch

As they walk, James comments that she hasn’t aged a day since he last saw her. As they talk, she calls him James, but he asks her to call him Iwan.

Chapter 27: Yo Mama’s Fajitas

Their conversation is interrupted by a food vendor, Miguel Ruiz, who greets Iwan warmly. He introduces Clementine as “Lemon”. Iwan explains that he attended the Culinary Institute with Miguel as well as his fiancé, Isabelle “Isa” Martin. Clementine soon gets a text from her asking if she’s okay, and she responds that she is.

That night, they eat and talk. He explains that opening his own restaurant has been taking a lot of his time, so his sous chef at Olive Branch, Iona Samuels, has been picking up the slack.

He says that his grandfather died seven years ago, around the time he moved out of her aunt’s apartment. Finally, Clementine asks him why he never came and found her over the last seven years, and he asks her if she would’ve believed him.

Chapter 28

Iwan explains that he knows about the seven-year slip. He says that if he had gone to find her, she would’ve been twenty-two and he would’ve had to explain what was going on. Iwan seems reluctant to fill in the pieces for her about when happened during the rest of that summer.

Miguel and Isa soon pack things up and join them. When Iwan goes to throw away his trash, Miguel and Isa comment that they’re worried Iwan is going to burn himself out.

They’re all joking around and laughing when Miguel and Isa bring up the summer Iwan fell for Clementine.

Chapter 29: Bad Timing

When the subject of that summer comes up, Iwan quickly ends the night. When they walk to the subway, Clementine knows she wants him, but Iwan seems certain the timing is always off with them.

Chapter 30: Way Back When

When she gets back to the apartment, Iwan from seven years ago is there. She starts kissing him hungrily. They have sex.

The next morning, as they’re talking, Iwan asks her why she refers to her aunt in past tense, but she dodges the question. He then suggests they do something outside, but Clementine doesn’t know how to tell him that they can’t exist outside the apartment. As soon as he opens the door, he’s gone.

Chapter 31: Letters to the Dead

Clementine tries, but she’s not able to get back to him. Earl tells her that she has a letter from someone named Vera, and Clementine wonders if it’s the Vera that her aunt had fallen in love with.

Later that day, Clementine takes Fiona and Drew to the food truck that she’d gone to with James the night before. She’s surprised to see James there too. As they talk, he realizes for her they just had sex, though for him it was seven years ago.

Chapter 32: Second and Final Bid

Clementine is tempted to read the letter Vera wrote, but she feels like it would be intrusive and that she should return it.

When Drew texts about submitting the second bid, he also mentions that they have an invite to the opening of James’s new restaurant.

Clementine then asks if Drew and Fiona would like to accompany her to deliver Vera’s letter.

Chapter 33: What Never Was

Clementine makes her way to Vera’s place and explains that she’s Analea’s niece. Once inside, Clementine tells Vera that her aunt passed away six months ago. When Vera asks what happened, Clementine says that her aunt took too many pills and died.

Vera says that Analea, who she refers to as “Annie”, was always afraid of a good thing coming to an end. Vera says she never loved anyone quite like she loved Annie, and she wishes she would’ve fought more for that relationship. Vera says she was angry for years that Annie was too scared of change and of things changing between them to let them be together.

Vera then talks about her kids, Iwan and Lilly, and Clementine realizes that Iwan is Vera’s son. Vera mentions that the restaurant that Iwan works at was once his grandfather’s.

Chapter 34: All Too Well

On Thursday, Clementine, Fiona and Drew make their way to Iwan’s new restaurant opening. When she walks in, Clementine notices how different this place looks from the warm, homey, family-style restaurant that Iwan once described as being his dream. This place is marble and silver and warehouse-like.

Vera Ashton is there for the opening as well, and she introduces Clementine to Lilly.

James soon shows up to introduce everyone to the restaurant, hyacinth. The food is decadent and good, perfect even. But it makes Clementine sad since it’s so different from the food he once prepared for her.

Clementine confronts him about it, and James admits that he’s trying to make his grandfather proud. He also says that if he wasn’t doing stuff like this no one would care what he did. It’s the reason people like her are competing for his cookbook. He says that change isn’t always bad and that he can’t just stay the same person that she met in that apartment.

Suddenly, Juliette says that Fiona’s water has broken and she needs to call an Uber to get to the hospital. Clementine sets off with Drew, Fiona and Juliette when the car arrives.

Chapter 35: Two Weeks’ Notice

They make their way to New York Presbyterian. Juliette doesn’t know Fiona and Drew that well, but she’s there anyway. In the waiting area, Clementine talks to Juliette about her crappy boyfriend, encouraging her to go find someone else since she’s clearly unhappy.

Clementine then thinks about her own life and realizes she’s unhappy as well. Soon, Penelope Grayson Torres, is born.

On Monday, Clementine goes into work and submits her resignation letter. She tells Rhonda that she realized this isn’t what she wants. Rhonda tells her she didn’t figure out what she wanted until she was almost forty and tells her to go have some fun.

Chapter 36: Tourist Season

After quitting her job, Clementine realizes she needs to be break it to her parents. She goes to Long Island to tell them in person. She tells them that she’s considering selling the apartment for money. Her parents are supportive, telling her she should go find something that makes her happy.

Chapter 37: The Last Goodbye

When she heads home, she thinks about her decision to become a publicist. She had just gotten back from a backpacking trip and gotten into a taxi with the stranger already inside it. They were both headed toward NYU so they decided to take it together. She’d still been figuring out what she wanted to do at that point, but when the guy asked, she’d mentioned wanting to work in books. He then said she’d be great at it. The next thing she knew, she was interviewing for Strauss & Adder.

She realizes in some ways she’d been like James, giving up parts of herself to fit into some idea of what she thought she wanted to be.

Back in the apartment, Clementine realizes she’s been transported again. He asks what’s going on, given that she simply disappeared last time. Finally, Clementine tells him the truth. She tells him to come find her in seven years. Iwan suggests going to find her now, but Clementine tells him she’ll be a different person right now. Seven years ago, she wasn’t ready, still trying to figure out what type of person she wanted to be.

Clementine realizes she needs to let go of the person Iwan used to be and try to accept him as the person he is now.

Chapter 38: Ghosts

Clementine and Iwan finally part since it’s time for him to go move into his new apartment, where he’ll be rooming with Miguel.

Clementine is still there when her aunt arrives home and embraces her with a hug.

Chapter 39: I Knew You When

On her 30th birthday, Clementine celebrates with Fiona, Drew and Juliette. When they’re alone, Drew gives her the package from her aunt that Clementine had thrown away. She says that she saw it in the trash and fished it out, thinking Clementine might change her mind about wanting to toss it. Clementine says she was right.

Drew also tells her that James Ashton has decided to go with their publishing house. After they leave, Clementine opens the package and finds that it’s a travel guide for Iceland. There’s a note from her aunt, saying that it’s for their trip for next year.

Shortly after, James shows up in the park, having remembered that Clementine said she celebrates her birthday here every year. He invites her to go to dinner with him.

Chapter 40: Chase the Moon

James takes back to the restaurant, which has now been redecorated to look more like the intimate and warm restaurant with various artworks covering the wall, much like the restaurant he’d once described to her. The menu is largely the same, except James says he’s going to add lemon pie to it. He’s also added pomme frites, french fries, since that was the dish that first inspired him to become a cook.

He says he’s glad she helped remind him of who he once wanted to be and the things he once wanted. He says that he wants a restaurant where people can feel at home.

He says it’s now the past meeting the present. He also tells her that he’s in love with her. She tells him that she loves him, too, and they kiss.

That night, they head back to her apartment together. They go inside and have sex.

Epilogue: And We Stay

In the Epilogue, Clementine sells the apartment, and they pack up her stuff. Even though she is moving, she thinks of how the love that was in the apartment will remain.

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