Thanks to Canongate and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
I feel like I’ve been completely behind on my reviews lately (this is not so much a feeling as a fact) and being a high school teacher who has had to completely reinvent her way of working has made things more than a little busy recently. I’m going to try and catch up a little with my reviews over the next few weeks, I think I’m sitting at about a 67% ratio on NetGalley at the moment and I want to try and get that up to maybe about 70% over the next week because there are quite a lot of books I have read but haven’t had a chance to review. To try and speed things up a little bit I am going to be dictating my reviews using a voice recognition programme so if my reviews seem a bit “chattier” then that might be the reason why. It’s also quite a fun exercise to see how Microsoft Word deals with accents, every time I say “rather” it thinks I am saying “robber” which is rather fun.
It is always going to be difficult to review a book written by such a well-known and beloved personality and especially someone who has recently published a really well received memoir. I really like Robert Webb, he’s terribly interesting and he makes me laugh a lot so I was excited to read this.
This book tells the Storey of Kate Marsden. Kate’s much-loved husband Luke has recently died unexpectedly, and we find her struggling to cope with the depth of her grief. She has shut herself off from her friends and has burned her bridges with her long-standing career.
This book is difficult to talk about without spoiling anything due to the very nature of the story. I’d rather write a vague plot summary than spoil anything for anyone reading it for the first time. That said, the blurb gives a fair amount of detail and without spoiling anything this tale of grief has the main character travelling back in time to the first day she met Luke.
I thought the parts of the story that covered Kate’s grief and the love that she shared with Luke were genuinely affecting and her depression and nihilism were captured perfectly. It also manages to be really rather funny though and ultimately this is really a book about second chances and the humour is what you would expect from a comedian of Webb’s talent.
My issues started when the time travelling aspect of the story was introduced. I felt that the timeline was rather shonky and I struggled to accept that anyone could experience the depth of feeling Kate and her friends seem to develop over the course of just one afternoon and evening. Perhaps it would have been more believable had the time travel aspect taken place over a period of time but I just couldn’t accept that anyone could become so close to a group of individuals in such a short period of time, especially since Kate was actually a total cow to some of them. Kate’s character in the past dodged dangerously close to Mary Sue territory at times which was a bit strange as she wasn’t really nice to anyone at all. In a way the time travel aspect almost seemed more believable than the relationships. There was just far too much packed in and I didn’t understand why the timeline wasn’t stretched out further.
For me the story completely lost the plot in the final section. It went from being a touching story about love and friendship to this rather bizarre action adventure. Again, it’s not really possible for me to go into this without spoiling things but it as a reader it just jarred a lot. The mental gymnastics required to understand the ending were also beyond me i’m afraid.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this but I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I had hoped. Perhaps I would have preferred some angsty navel gazing and that is on me, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for.