I’ve never really struggled to review books without putting spoilers in before… But this is a hard one! It’s really difficult to give this book the review it deserves without spoiling it by revealing the ins and outs of the plot to prospective readers. What I do say to prospective readers however is go out and buy this book! You will NOT regret it!
So the story is based around Jess Hart. We meet her in modern day where she works as a caterer, lives in a cottage she rents from her sister and owns a dog called Smudge. She has a boyfriend called Zac who is a high flying doctor who puts pressure on her to be someone she’s not. Jess can’t help but compare every man she dates to the one True Love of her life. Mr Langley (Matthew).
The story centres on Mr Langley’s return to Norwich where Jess encounters him as an adult in her early 30s and him in his 40s. He has a long term girlfriend, a daughter and a new identity.
As the story develops we juxtapose between present day and a sort of first person back story from Matthew’s point of view about how the affair between teacher and pupil first began.
What I found most fascinating about this novel and what really shone through as a tremendous skill from the author was her ability to present us with what is seen as a henious crime and completely turn it on its head and turn it into a love story. I felt myself comparing it strongly to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: despite that little voice at the back of your mind screaming out that what is happening is completely wrong, you just can’t help but root for the characters whose love seems so strong.
The author has a great way of creating characters. Some of them so hateful and spiteful you want to scream and shout at them and shake them to their senses or tell Jess just to get them out of her life. There are some devestating heart rendering moments that almost destroy you and there are edge of your seat moments that make you unable to put the book down even if it’s 3am and you’re up for work in a few hours.
I’ve seen a couple of reviews hoping there will be a second novel in this story but for me I really hope their isn’t. Without giving too much away I think the ending was perfect enough to create that rarely achieved feeling which allows the reader to imagine what happens next and be satisfied with that. Like Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and her perfect three word ending. Leaving the reader with a question if done correctly can beat a good old happy ending hands down!
Overall I really enjoyed this book I found myself desperately looking forward to my daily commute to and from work so that I could get my teeth back into it! I found most questions were answered but enough were left open to leave the story dwindling in my mind which is at the end of the day what a reader and an author always want. Well done Ms Done! (That was totally unintentional!)