I was given a copy of this book by a friend and I’m very grateful to her for giving it to me because I found this a really absorbing read that kept me wanting to turn the pages until the early hours because I wanted to know what was going to happen and this is a book that keeps you guessing right until the end!
The story is quite a complex one, told from several different angles and this results in you, as a reader, getting a real indepth knowledge of who the characters are and the story behind what’s happened to them. Dan and Maria’s marriage is falling apart and their daughter Ruby is having to accept that Dan has had to move out to a small flat whilst they see what happens with their marriage.
Neither Dan or Maria are happy though. Dan is struggling to cope with living on his own, only seeing his daughter at certain times and hearing her go from calling him ‘Daddy’ to just ‘Dad’- is it personal? Why does she still call Maria Mummy? He tries to still be supportive to Maria, who he knows is struggling too, but she keeps shutting him out and they don’t seem able to hold a conversation without it resulting in an argument. When he has a bad day at work, it is the last straw.
Maria her own demons, she’s trying to remain part of the ‘real world’ but finds it difficult to talk to people in the playground, gets lost in her own rituals which can consume most of her day and then begins to write letters to try to voice her feelings, but these too turn into quite an obsession.
But what has caused the couple to lose their way in their marriage like this? And will they be able to work through it or is it the end? And who is the stranger who wakes up one day with no memory and no idea where he is?
This story is told in a different way to what I’ve read before, it’s in various voices; Dan- telling his story in a backwards fashion working backwards from the present day month by month. Maria- telling her story via the letters she is writing and then also by Jack- the man who has woken up in a strange place with no memories.
I haven’t read a story before where one of the voices is working backwards whilst others are working forward. This meant that some of the events which Maria spoke about, were mentioned in passing via Dan but then were explained more fully from his perspective later in the book. Sometimes when reading Dan’s passages I had to remind myself that the events he was talking about were before those that Maria had said. It was a little confusing but what I loved about this style was just how wholesome the characters were by the end, it meant that you got to know both sides of the story and not in a ‘his side’ then ‘her side’ way.
The best part about this book was that I had my suspicions about what was going to happen, I kept trying to preempt the ending and guess who the stranger was but that new scenes would happen that would then throw me off. It is definitely a book that has you guessing and trying to piece facts together but with an ending that isn’t too obvious- I was still guessing right up until the last few chapters; it did make for a very compelling read that’s for sure!
The characters within this novel are excellent. I really did feel as though I knew Dan and Maria well and I particularly liked the author’s description of a mental illness. The challenges which OCD posed for Maria were very authentic and were described in a sensitive manner- quite often OCD and depression are very stereotypical in books but this felt much more real and I did get a real sense of frustration from Maria’s character as she tried to work through it. I think that is a very clever skill to have.
I enjoyed reading this book and finished it within a couple of days because I really wanted to know what was going to happen and who everyone was. I think it would be brilliant if a sequel could happen because I want to know what happens next for Dan and Maria! I haven’t read anything by S D Robertson before but I will definitely be reading his previous work and looking out for future books. Thank you to another author for sending me this book.