About the Book
Alice Raikes boards a train at King’s Cross to visit her sisters in Scotland. Hours later, she steps into the traffic on a busy London road and is taken to hospital in a coma.
Who or what did she see in Edinburgh that made her return so suddenly? Was the accident a suicide attempt? And what exactly do her family, waiting at her bedside, have to hide?
Sliding between different levels of consciousness, Alice listens to the conversations around her, and begins sifting through recollections of her past, and of a recently curtailed love affair.
What I thought
This is the first book I’ve read by Maggie O’Farrel. She has written seven novels, this being the first one. Well if this book is anything to go by I’ll definitely be reading all her other books. I really enjoyed it.
It’s an odd description from the back cover. It says Alice listens to the conversations around her whilst sliding between different levels of consciousness. So I expected there to be a lot of scenes set around Alice’s bedside. Not so, in fact there was very little of the story taking place within the hospital after Alice’s accident.
There is a lot of jumping around both in time and between characters especially I would estimate the first quarter of the book. At times it could get confusing as one paragraph could be discussing Alice’s mother, then the next paragraph it might be Elspeth, Alice’s grandmother during a different period of time.
Once Alice meets her husband John the story tends to settle more in the present. Though when is the present? There is nothing in the story to help you identify when the story is set, though the fact that no reference is ever made of the internet, or email. All telephone calls were made via land lines and telephone boxes, and one reference was made to signing a credit card slip. Which all leaves you to guess that present day in the book is not our present day.
I really enjoyed the style of writing. It always seemed a little surreal though. But if the majority of the book was actually Alice recalling her past whilst in a coma then the author has written it incredibly well without the reader even realising that this was Alice’s semi conscious recollections. In a way it reminded me very much of books by Beryl Bainbridge, although I’ve not read anything by her since my teenage years, which is a very long time ago.
I wasn’t that keen on the ending, it just ended abruptly I thought. Leaving the reader to wonder, but maybe I just missed the point.
All in all I loved this book. It was a very intense and emotional read.
NB. Ooops. I said in my review that I wasn’t too sure when the present time in the book was set and the fact that no one seemed to be using mobiles or social media. I’ve just noticed that the paperback copy I got from a charity shop was published in 2001. That explains things. I didn’t realise the book was written almost 18 years ago. Apart from those few things it wasn’t dated – just goes to show – love is timeless.
You can find it on Amazon