Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Moment by Claire Dyer

Do you remember the moment your life changed forever?

Paddington station, nine a.m., rush hour. As the crowds ebb and flow, time suddenly stands still for two people: Fern and Elliott, ex-lovers who parted twenty-five years before and never expected to see each other again.

But here they are, face to face, and the connection is as powerful as it was the day they first met. Their lives have moved on - to marriage, children and divorce - yet neither has stopped regretting the day that drove them apart.

Fern gives Elliott her number and they tentatively arrange to meet again that evening when both will be travelling back through the station. 

And, as the day ticks on, and the memories resurface, both Fern and Elliott reflect on the past. As their emotions go round in circles, so does the Paddington clock, counting down the minutes to eight p.m. - and the moment the future is in their hands.

I honestly hate it when I don't love a book.  It doesn't happen often, I'm one of those annoying people who always loves every book she reads. Only occasionally do I find a book I dislike.  I didn't dislike The Moment, for the most part I enjoyed it, but I never felt totally and utterly engaged or engulfed by the characters.  It was the penultimate chapter that made me think that I would be seriously disappointed by it, but the final, short chapter, saved me from hating it.  

I thought the message that the person you are today hinges on an infinite number of moments in your past was a really thought-provoking message, but sadly, this book just didn't satisfy me in the way I imagined it would when I both heard about it and opened it for the first time.  Thinking about it now, after I've had time to digest the ending, it is, of course, the right way to end it.  There isn't any other way to do it.  But it lacks that unconditional romance that I do love to read.  But as I'm fast coming to realise fairytales don't really exist.  This book is about real life; how people make mistakes and people adapt.

The first chapter starts with Fern, one foot poised at the top of the escalator ready to go down to the Circle and District lines in Paddington station.  There is then a relatively long narrative describing what runs through Fern's head at this moment.  Now, I'm not someone who commutes in and out of London, but I know for a fact, that a moments hesitation at the top of an escalator in a tube station is not going to go down well with Londoners.  This was the overriding thought I had when reading this first chapter, and it spoiled what could have been a fabulous start to the book.

I did, however, think that the book was well-written, and it is impressive that Claire Dyer managed to fit the history of 25 years into a day (and this book).  It was wonderful to see each of Fern and Elliott living out the same historical moments, but from their own perspective, and how actually if they'd have followed their instinct back then things would have turned out different.  However, at times, I did find it a little repetitive as you were experiencing the same moment twice, sometimes more throughout the book.  I also found myself glossing over parts of the book that didn't directly involve Fern or Elliott as it didn't seem to engage me enough to make me savor every word.

That said, if you read the back of this book and you think it might be something you'd like....try it.  Don't let me disappointment put you off, I'm probably just craving that fairytale escapism that is more commonplace in novels.

The Moment was released on 12 September 2013, and thank you Cecilia Keating from Midas PR for the review copy.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

I came to say goodbye by Caroline Overington

It was a crime that shocked the world.

The CCTV footage shows a young woman pushing through the hospital doors.

She walks into the nursery, picks up a baby and places her carefully in a shopping bag.

She walks out to the car park, towards an old Ford Corolla. For a moment, she holds the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smells her.

Then she clips the baby into the car, gets in and drives off. This is where the footage ends.

What happens next will leave a mother devastated, and a little boy adrift in a world he will never understand.

I finished this book last night with tears in my eyes.  Having read the back of the book, I was expecting an action packed thrill ride, but it isn't like that, it's a slow tale through the history of a family which eventually culminates in a tragedy.  It is a very moving storyline though, it just takes time to build.

The book begins with a very short prologue describing a woman walking into a hospital at 4am, and taking a baby.  Part One is then written by a man, Med Atley, father to three children who describes his marriage, bringing up his children and the past slowly making his way forward in to the present.  Part Two is written by one of Med's daughters, Kat, as she picks up a specific part of the tale before returning to Med.  The entire book is written as a letter from Med and Kat to a Court judge.  It isn't apparent from the start what Court case is happening, but it is clearly something to do with the kidnapped baby. 
Finally, the book ends with a letter written to the judge by a lady we haven't met before.

I personally really liked the style it was written in, it was very personable and I thought it was unique.  It perhaps wasn't as gripping as I'd imagined or hoped for, and there were some flaws in the story but it was generally captivating and moving.

I came to say goodbye is released on 26 September.

Thank you to Citizen Sigmund of Random House for the review copy!