Saturday, 3 October 2015


For October's read I have something slightly different, and if I'm brutally honest, something that if I saw in the bookshop myself I would probably gloss over. This book was recommended to me by my boyfriend, mainly because his Aunt happened to write it, and I was naturally keen to see what the book was like, and more importantly whether I'd enjoy a different genre to what I usually read.

Jenny Eclair's book is split into various parts, with each section following the life of a different character, from Edwina, the women we first meet, and whose family the book centres around, to a young girl Fern, and Edwina's step-son Lucas. Each section leads seamlessly on from the next, and recurring characters feature to link all the sections together.

When we meet Edwina, we instantly get a feeling of age and loneliness, the beautiful descriptions allow us to visualise all too painfully a once beautiful women riddled with age and pain. Not only that, on meeting Edwina we are aware of all sorts of the hurt she has suffered in her life, and the secrets she tries to repress. As Edwina goes through each of the rooms in her house in turn, clearing them out in preparation for moving, we are slowly let into Edwina's memories, what each room means to her, and why she often tries to avoid them.

Gradually we see Edwina in her youth, as a young mother and wife, an artist, a lover. We also begin to see why she is alone, why this big dormant house lies empty to all but her, and are introduced to the characters of her two children, her step-son, and to a lesser extent her husbands and friend Alicia. After around one hundred pages, Edwina delves deeper into a character whose life and secrets are central to the whole book, that of her son Charlie.

Just as soon as we are ready for Edwina to reveal Charlie, and his secret that has controlled her life up until then, we are introduced to the next part of the book, and the character of Fern. Parts two and three of the book follow Fern, and then Edwina's step-son Lucas, slowly but surely revealing more and more about the person that has affected this families life, that of Charlie. Following the book from people's various perspectives allows the reader to gain a more rounded character for Charlie, allows the reader to sift through the hate and envy that one person feels towards him, along with the love, admiration and desperation that others feel.

The book finishes with two two page chapters from both Edwina and then Fern, and although the book is not a happy one, the ending leaves you feeling somewhat satisfied, with a sense of completion. Life has moved on, and we see that clearly in the closing chapters. Although the book seems to centre around the actions and life of one character, Charlie, and how those actions have affected the lives of those around him, the book also allows us to follow and feel involved in the lives of the other characters. No character's personality or life is left intact, all have evolved and helped connect the three parts of the book together.

Although the ending was not the one that I would have liked, I understood why the book had to end like it did, and was left with a satisfying, if slightly saddened sense of completion. The book had allowed me to become truly immersed in these people's lives, and I felt that I knew everything I needed to and wanted to know upon turning the last page.

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