I have enjoyed reading the novels written by Erica James since her first one ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ was published in 1996. With the exception of a couple (Gardens of Delight and Hidden Talents) that are still sitting on my bookshelf, plus Love and Devotion which I still have not obtained a copy of, I have now read all her novels. I regard her work as a thoroughly good read where you can immerse yourself in the story, not great literature but so much better than some of the novels regarded as ‘chick lit’ or ‘romantic women’s fiction’.
It was interesting to read at the end of the novel Erica James notes as to why she had written this novel. Her starting point was the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 an event she herself witnessed and survived. She always felt that one day she would use this experience in one of her novels, not writing about the actual event but a story of how lives could be changed as the result of surviving such an ordeal.
I think she has succeeded and written a very readable novel around this theme.
In her words “We humans have an incredible ability for surviving the seemingly insurmountable, but it’s always the little things – the daily irritations of every day life – that prove more challenging”
It is three years since four friends, Dan and Sally Oliver, Chloe Hennessey and her boyfriend Paul survived the Boxing Day Tsunami. We catch up with the lives they are now all living in the countryside not far from Manchester, Sally a successful Lawyer in Manchester, Dan a stay at home father and Chloe a local GP. Dan and Sally appear to have a happy marriage and a child, two major things Chloe lacks and desires in her life having broken up with her boyfriend Paul. Chloe thinks she may have found the ideal man when she meets Seth Hawthorne, but it is complicated!
As the story line is a realistic one it is easy to become immersed in the lives of the protagonists and find oneself feeling emotions regarding their behaviour. For example Sally Oliver is a most irritating and thoroughly unpleasant young woman, why did her husband Dan stupidly put up with her behaviour for so long. Even the other main protagonists Chloe Hennessey and Seth Hawthorne I felt I wanted to shake more than once!
I suspect that these were just the sort of reactions to these characters that Erica James wanted us to have.
Anyway in my opinion she has produced yet another delightful realistic novel of romance, duplicity and misconceptions in the 21st century.