Monday, 9 February 2015

"You, Me & Other People" by Fionnuala Kearney

Thanks to Harper Collins UK for sending me an ARC of this title, for review purposes...

Beth and Adam have parted ways.  Not in an amicable way either.  Beth discovers Adam has cheated on her, for the second time, and has had enough.  Their daughter Meg, is away at University and Beth just cannot take the lies and deceit anymore.  She struggles to move on from their break-up as she doesn't know herself as a single unit, just as a wife and a mother.  Rattling around her marital home, she wonders if, by kicking Adam out, has she done the right thing.  Was a it a knee jerk reaction to his affair?  Can she forgive and forget?  Can she manage without him?  

Adam, meanwhile, is struggling to come to terms with the break-up himself.  The novelty of a younger woman, sex on tap and a bachelor life is not as appealing as one would think.  He misses the home comforts and the magnitude of his dalliance is swallowing him up.  Things are even about to get worse, as an unexpected phone call causes more secrets to come to the surface, and spill into his life.  Things couldn't get worse, or could they?

Fionnuala Kearney has written a novel that began so realistically that I felt I was right there beside Beth, almost immediately.   The writing is so subtle that you find yourself lost in the world of this family from beginning to end.  Beth seems to be a representation of a large percent of women over forty, who have done the major child rearing, picked the dream home and decorated it to within an inch of its life, all while supporting their husbands in a quasi cheer-leading way.  A stay at home mother who has a hobby or a 'calling' (in this case, song writing), which occasionally brings home some money,  means that Beth has been cocooned in this suburban world, with a kind of separation from reality.  Firmly convinced of her husband's adoration, she never suspects he would play away from home again and her world shatters in one foul swoop.  Their daughter, nineteen year old Meg, is also devastated by her father's infidelity and she lays on the guilt trip in a heavy handed way.  Also gunning for Adam's demise is Karen, Beth's best friend and confident throughout the whole ordeal.  Even  Adam's younger brother, Ben, is horrified at his sibling's behaviour.  All in all,  Adam is not popular.  With anyone.  While we read of his feeling lost and alone, it is hard to feel any sympathy for the creator of his own hard luck.  

All through the book, there are little clues to a more uneven past than Beth could imagine.  Like chinks of light through uneven floorboards, there is enough to warrant further investigation into the murky darkness, but with the knowledge that you may not like what you find. 
 Secrets and lies.  Who are they usually to protect?  The liar, or the people who trust them?  

This debut caused me to basically miss a whole day with my family.  I knew by the third page that I was hooked and that there was no point in putting it down.  I read straight through, until my eyes were unable to fight the good fight anymore, but only with the knowledge that it was the weekend and I could pick up the baton nice and early the next day.  
A clever look at human nature, the differences between men and women and the dynamics of the 'average' family.  We all have boxes in the attic, labelled and forgotten.  How many of us have secrets that we hope remained labelled and forgotten?  More, I expect, that you would think...

Highly recommended.  Ideal for fans of Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain

You, Me & Other People is published by HarperCollins and will be available in TradePaperBack (Ireland & Export) and ebook format from 26 Feb 2015

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