Genre = literary fiction, contemporary
Author = Bernard MacLaverty
Where to Buy =
This is about a couple called Gerry and Stella who decide to go for a mini holiday to Amsterdam to help them rekindle their love and also figure out how they want to spend the rest of their lives. However, Stella has some ideas of her own but can she go through with them as her past is weighing her down too much? A story of love and loss.
This book is a musing plot through someone’s life meaning it cruises along as an observer in Stella’s life which works well but at times it feels very slow and stagnant. Though there are some scenes within the book that are exciting for example the scene where Stella is having a conversation with the nun was tense and also emotional which was one of the most beautiful scenes in the book. It was a one sided story of Stella which to an extent made me engrossed in her character but also annoyed me because this story felt like it had two sides and the author was ignoring the other side which was the husband’s life which I think could have made it even more of an interesting character study or even his perspective of her. The ending was weak and disappointing for me. All in all I wanted to see more drama between them as I felt there was still some passion in their relationship and at times it was too depressing.
Gerry had just given up as a character but there were so many moments where the author could have explored the reasons why and that would have given the book more intrigue. I felt sorry for Gerry as I knew that it wasn’t just his fault but that was very much how it was portrayed. I could feel his pain and confusion throughout the book and his character wanting more communication but also his guilt was so prominent that it really got to me. Stella I understood from many angels especially wanting a different life it is such a loaded question but also one that resonates a lot with people today partly due the way society is going. Her struggle with her religion was heartbreaking and still so important to the change in her life she wanted which was sweet and I could relate to that having been brought up religious but now not really believing. On the other hand, I really couldn’t stand her character as she had this selfishness and the fact she didn’t want to try with her marriage just made me annoyed at her but also sad for her because she had given up.
I enjoyed the concept behind the book of looking at those older years in your life and how would you feel about where you are at the moment and where you have been. I think it has a lot of resonance to many people today as the world and the way we look at life is changing almost daily but the question is are we evolving and I think that this book tackles it from a different perspective. Although it did feel like it was trying too hard to be like a Colm Toibon novel at times which I didn’t enjoy because at parts it felt like forced writing and there were scenes that I think needed more development and thought behind why they were there. The characters were an interesting study that when I was reading them brought out a lot of emotions of how I felt about their actions which was great. I think this is a novel for someone who likes to get lost in the character’s mind and their decisions.
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