The Story of You is the first novel I’ve read by Katy Regan and I have to say – I was absolutely blown away. When I read the summary, I thought that it would be a story that was immersed in romance, but it wasn’t and that’s not a bad thing. In fact the lack of romance kind of surprised me in a good way.
This novel consists of a rich mix of a number of different themes; familial relations (such as mother-daughter, siblings, father-daughter and the long detested stepmother), friendship, love, memories as well as traumas and mental illness. Regan meshes together a beautifully well-written story about Robyn King; a level-headed, mature 32-year-old who lives in London and is a psychiatric nurse by profession.
On the outset, it appears as if Robyn is completely in control of her life and her career. She enjoys visiting her patients and even expresses her inert preference for some (i.e Grace), the reason for which we find out later – because she is able to relate to her in a way. It is only when we delve in deeper that we realise she is running away from something, or somewhere to be more precise; her hometown Kilterdale and all the people within it; Joe being one of them.
Joe is an uplifting gem in this novel. He is sweet, endearing and passionate and carries his heart on his sleeve. And most importantly, he loves Robyn more than anything. But Robyn’s attempt of escaping the past has already created a huge drift between the two and the novel explores the cause for this and Robyn’s attempts to overcome it.
There is also Robyn’s family; her father, stepmother, two sisters, her late mother and Lilly. These characters are eccentric and pave a way for us to understand Robyn further and develop an emotional connection with her. Robyn’s mother is – if I may say so – the most important person in her life for her, even though she is long gone. Regan’s portrayal of the captivating mother-daughter relationship between Lillian and Robyn doesn’t falter in gripping the reader and leaving them teary-eyed on many occasions.
Regan’s exceptional flare for writing allows the reader to breeze through this novel effortlessly. I personally was hooked onto the story from the very onset. I laughed at the realistic depiction of one’s experience on the London Underground and I was absolutely stumped when – two pages in – we realise that Robyn’s life is going to change forever from this point onward. That is what kept me on – the quick-pace at which we reach the turning point in Robyn’s life.
However, the pace ended up lagging rather than retaining its swiftness.
For me personally, this novel could have been a little better had it not been this dragged. At points I felt that certain things were getting a little repetitive; such as Robyn’s confusion and emotional turmoil or the situation with her family or even the progress of her patient Grace. Often, I also thought that chapters had passed by and the narrator hadn’t made any actual progress – either emotionally, or in her career or anything else and that is something that disappointed me a little. A story should allow the narrator to progress in some way towards the climax– one which, in this novel seemed kind of blurry.
But overall, the novel was a huge pleasure to read. Regan’s ability to describe places and events with such ease made this novel the success that it is. It is especially her organic depiction of London (and Kilterdale) that allowed a Londoner like me to imagine myself in those very places, seeing, smelling and hearing those very things that were scrawled on the yellow pages, in complete awe and wishing that I too could write like this one day.
After this story, I will definitely be purchasing Regan’s other titles as well because I feel like I can learn so many valuable literary tools just by reading her novels.
For those of you who want to read something that dwells on the importance of motherhood, love and family then I highly recommend Regan’s novel. A little disclaimer though – there are references made to sensitive topics such as rape, so only read it if you have the heart to.