I have recently finished reading this book on my Kindle and I thought it was really good. It was well written with brilliantly crafted characters without there having to be pages full of exciting action, it made a very believable and enjoyable read.
Choosing this book
I chose this book because I have read other books by Lisa Jewell and really enjoyed them. One of her books that I previously read was The Truth About Melody Browne and I really found that a very absorbing book and since then have read a few others and never been let down by them. I saw that this book had lots of good reviews and so downloaded it to my Kindle for about £3.
There may be some spoilers within this so if you don’t want to find out about them then please don’t read this! The story tells of Vince and Joy and their relationship although they don’t actually have a relationship as they fell out of touch not long after they met. They met when they were teenagers on holiday with their parents. They both felt out of place, not ‘one of the crowd’ amongst their friends and so when they stumbled upon each other in a caravan park in their late teens they had an instant bond. They became very good friends, they couldn’t keep their hands off each other and they lost their virginities together. They talked for hours and the connection was obvious but then the next morning Vince awoke to a letter on the doorstep of his caravan. It was written by Joy but it had been rained on and the only words he could read were “I feel so ashamed”. Joy’s family had left the caravan park and Vince was left with a letter without any details and could only assume that the one he had thought was The One was ashamed of having lost her virginity to him.
Vince, in his thirties, is telling his friends this at a dinner party and they are all mesmerised by the story. They want to know why he never tried to get in touch with her and Vince goes on to tell them about how he happened to see Joy again several years later. During the time that they have been apart lots of things happened to Joy and Vince and when they did cross paths again it just was not the right time for them to stay in touch, too much was happening in their lives that they needed to sort out. Joy was in a disastrous marriage in which her husband made her feel as though she couldn’t so much as sneeze without his permission, Vince was experiencing women problems of his own and questioning his career. Would there ever be a time in which they would bump into each other and both feel ready to carry on their teenage relationship? Or had too much changed them in that time? Was it just a teenage holiday romance?
The characters of this book are brilliantly formed. Often with books it is just the main characters that are developed but there are other players in this novel and they too are well formed. Vince and Joy are very well created, because we see them through a long period of time- from their late teens to mid 30s you do get to grow up with them and see what they go through so you do feel as though you really know them. Joy was an individual, creative type who was easy to talk to but seemed to shut down and become half a person during her marriage, it made me really get behind her when she was thinking of leaving her husband. Vince who had always come across as being quite caring, nice and not the sort to get into trouble stayed that way throughout but had some very bizarre relationships because he was just too nice and I could see why the kind of women he went out with were attracted to that.
The other characters in the book that were created well were their parents. I felt as though I could see why Vince and Joy were how they were because of their parents and how they behaved, this helped to get a good feel for the book as it gave the background to them and not just a sketchy description on the main characters. knowing their families really helped to make them all round characters. The friends which Vince’s girlfriend/wife ended up seeing were an interesting bunch which were well described too. Everyone in this book was formed really well in a way which you could picture them and judge what they would be like to each situation
My opinion of this book is that it’s a very good one! You don’t need huge dramas to kick off for a book to be a page turner, instead it slowly talks you through the characters and gives you that question of ‘why if they met did they not do anything about it???’ so you keep reading because you want to know why. All the time I was thinking did they eventually stay in touch? Did they get together? And all the time different things were happening to them which made these options not seem very plausible.
It is most certainly not a book where you can pre-empt what is going to happen. There are lots of points where I thought something would happen and then it didn’t and sometimes this frustrated me but in a good way, a way that made me really get behind the characters and wish they could be more open or brave and I think that was the effect Jewell was trying to create.
I really felt as though I knew the characters very, very well when reading this and that really helped me to enjoy the book as I genuinely wanted to know what happened to each of them.
This book also helped me to look at my own life and what I have achieved between my late teens and how old I am now (late 20s) and think about what role fate had in my life and whether or not I believe in it. It is the kind of book where you get involved in other peoples’ lives and think about them as though they are friends. I would love for their to be a sequel. I was left feeling uplifted and positive.
When I wasn’t reading this book I was looking forward to reading it and finding out what happened next. Some nights I ended up going to bed really late as I wanted to keep reading. Chapters were not that long but I was just so compelled to keep reading. I think this is an ideal holiday read as it’s not too heavy or full of detail and has an uplifting feel at the end.
And the best bit was that at the end the last words were not ‘the end’ but ‘the beginning’…