This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
At the age of 42, Lucy Potts has started to question the path that her life has taken. She is married to the eccentric Simon, whose intense enthusiasm for life once appealed to her but now annoys her. As she struggles with being a good mother to their beloved sons, keeping on top of the artistry work and supporting him through his spontaneous decision to open up a Kiter’s Paradise centre for the local beach, poor Simon just doesn’t seem to be able to be enough. When Lucy is in a car accident, she is greeted by a mysterious guide who encourages her to explore the larger decisions she made in her life, but not stray too far from her body for fear of what might be lost. Suddenly, Lucy’s map of life seems open again as she is free to look at what have might have been had she chosen the other man who still haunts her dreams.
This appealed to me straight away; it is a very original idea and it works really well due to Lucy and all the supporting characters being strong and well-rounded. I could easily relate to Lucy and I loved the way that the author, whose gender surprised me due to strength of the female characters, created valid dialogue for a five year old girl terrified of witches and bereft at her mother’s dire choice in school shoes.As an adult, Lucy has been constantly haunted by ‘what if’ moments after the death of the man she believed to be her first true love, Hugh Ashby. She meets both him and Simon at college where life is a flurry of navigating awkward situations. The two men bring a love of literature, music and artists into her life, enriching her existence with a sense of the eclectic. Lucy grows in confidence alongside them, struggling to deal with her obsession for Hugh and Simon’s devoted affection for her. Simon is a brilliant character, brought to life by small-imperfections such as his strange Jamaican accent reserved for greetings. Lucy describes his presence as being like ‘freshly baked bread.’ Like much of the surreally beautiful description, this worked wonderfully. While Simon is not the obvious Darcy-esque novel boyfriend, he is so sweet and full of compassion for all those around him.
The novel explores how our own perceptions of the past affect who we are now and Lucy is put in the unique position of being able to go back and look at how she may have misread situations or missed small nuances that pushed her in the directions she took. She is given another chance to evaluate those in her life and their worth that she may have started to take for granted or over-looked.
There’s so much more that could be said for this novel and it seems a shame not to mention The Amazing Gemma Weakes and Lucy’s parents who have reminded me to consider everything I say to my own children for fear it may affect them! However, I don’t want to give too much away.
The only real bugbear I had with this novel, apart for the emotional hangover it gave me (two days later and still crying over it!) was Lucy having left her two children alone before the accident, which wasn't ever really dealt with. I felt, in order for all the issues to be resolved, this really needed to be addressed but maybe that’s me being an overly-protective parent!
A truly wonderful, reflective read!