This one – written by JoJo Moyes – is definitely not on my favourites.
It’s well-written, as all of Moyes books are, however it lacks an emotional pull that characterise Moyes’ novels. When I read this novel I was expecting a story that would reach my heart and create a place for itself. I was waiting for something exasperating, but after reading the first half I lowered my expecatations and was waiting for something, anything that would satisfy me. But I still didn’t get what I was waiting for. It was as if the whole book passed me by and I failed to make an emotional connection with the main persona, as if I failed to grasp what it was that Moyes wanted her readers to experience while reading this book.
One of the first few novels written by Moyes, this story revolves around the life of Suzanna Peacock; a discombobulated, unfulfilled married woman living a monotonous life without any firm objectives. Suzanna is missing something and she feels that the cause of this is her upbringing – most specifically her father’s treatment of her (or maltreatment as she likes to think) while growing up.
Suzanna isn’t happy and makes sure (intentionally or unintentionally) that everyone around her realises this too. She isn’t happy with her marriage. She isn’t happy with her husband – Neil – who is portrayed as a quintessentially hard-working, handsome and near-perfect middle-class husband that any ‘normal’ female would be satisfied with. She isn’t happy with her family. Suzanna isn’t happy with her siblings, with her mother – Viv – who isn’t actually Suzanna’s real mother but still treats her with more love, respect and care that even her real mother – Athene – wouldn’t have been capable of doing.
To me, Suzanna was the epitome of a spoilt, rich brat who received everything that she wanted in her life but still wasn’t satisfied with what she got. I failed to develop an emotional connection with her. I found her rude, irritating and selfish and felt that half of the time even she didn’t know what she wanted. Even when things went the way that she perhaps would have liked, she still felt like the world was against her.
Ir’s extremely hard to read stories revolving characters who are extremely self-centred and don’t have a firmly entrenched reason for their hatred of the world. I felt the story – despite how well-written it was – could have sought out a more intense emotional response from its readers if the reader had been able to spell out exactly what Suzanna’s problem was. I read the whole novel and only managed to understand snippets of where she may have felt wronged, however, I didn’t think those reasons were concrete enough to make her feel this secluded from the people who loved and cared for her despite her wrongdoings.
I did expect a lot more from JoJo Moyes because her novels are always brimming with powerful themes that fuel so many emotions within a reader. This novel definitely let me down. Moyes’ spark is alive in every one of her books. However, a stronger storyline, a confident character capable of being understood and a well-conceptualised plot would have gotten her the emotional response and connection from her readers that she was perhaps seeking for.
This one is not amazing, however, for those of you who enjoy novels with family as a central theme and aren’t too concerned with a powerful storyline, I would suggest giving this one a go.