This is a haunting book which deals with the idea that there is a perfect person for everyone, but that sometimes it is already too late when they are discovered. The characters in this book are seemingly successful, loyal and trustworthy, except that they have a secret. Every year, for a weekend, they meet, and it is that tiny contact, that meeting that is the background to a novel which spans several years. This is a novel where the feelings and emotions of some very realistic characters are described in almost forensic detail. Clever, sensitive and carefully written, this is a book of touching and gentle romance, interspersed with the reality of life where chances are missed. This is a book which represents modern society with its sophisticated communications and flexible work patterns, but is still at heart a romance that seems to be fated never to quite work. I was carried along with this book, and as a result was happy to receive a copy to read and review.
The book opens with Stephanie arriving at a hotel for an art course weekend. While it is a treat arranged by her father, she is brought by her fiancé, Matt. It appears that not all was well between them, they had argued and there is only music playing. This is a book with a continuous musical background, as characters send each other music videos, and there are points when particular music is important to the depth of feeling. There is evidently something in Stephanie’s background, and once in her room at the hotel she panics and decides to leave. She bumps into Jamie, a tutor on the course, and they instantly discover a similar sense of humour and interests. However, it soon emerges that Jamie is married to Helen, and in every respect they are well suited. There is an undeniable attraction, but they fight the urge to take things further. We then see Stephanie and Jamie in their own settings; Matt proves to be quite an objectionable man, but nevertheless she marries him out of gratitude. Helen loves Jamie, but also wants different things. He is a dedicated art teacher who cares about his students, while she is heavily involved in the design section of a high powered business. After a gap of a year, Stephanie returns to the hotel and meets Jamie once more. As life events continue, the couple only meet once a year and discover that they can only be themselves with the one person they cannot admit to loving to anyone else, even themselves. As the individual stories of the characters develop, it seems that Stephanie has sustained a terrific blow at the death of her mother, while Jamie is overwhelmed by the birth of a child and his wife’s behaviour.
This book is a mature and complex look at two people’s individual stories, and where they occasionally intersect. There is a therapist who poses the questions of Stephanie that the reader would perhaps ask, and Jamie represents his feelings through the medium of art. Through these devices we learn a lot about the characters, and it is a subtle and successful writing technique which transforms this romance into a physiological study with real depth. I was carried along with this story in every respect, enjoying the musical references and the careful construction of a relationship long denied. I can therefore recommend this book as a romance with so much depth, and an enjoyable read on many levels.
I am still reading many books for quite a lot of tours, though I am looking forward to many of these as I enjoy the variety of novels available. It is certainly an exciting time for books of so many kinds, and there are so many gems out there to discover. Do let me know if there are some types of books which you would like to see here, and what you are enjoying right now in the bookish sense.