I don’t necessarily read books in the order that I review them (and as I’ve mentioned before I sometimes find I have nothing to say about a book so don’t post anything about it) so although this follows on from the fairly grown-up Time and Time Again in terms of reviews the book I read immediately before You, Me and Other People was Armada – a video-game based interstellar romp. And that is probably why it took me some time to warm to this story of betrayed love and broken families.
The story follows the lives of Adam and Beth as their marriage breaks down – Adam has left to be with his new girlfriend – and, certainly initially, I found it really hard to warm to either of the main characters. Adam seems to be a serial philanderer, this isn’t the first time he has strayed, always seeking to regain his own youth with some other woman but I didn’t find Beth totally sympathetic at first. Adam is shallow – at one point he seems to rate his ‘beloved Lexus’ about as highly as his wife and daughter – but Beth appears as bad. In the early stages of the novel she is worried about feeling guilty about wanting to be more than a mother. Don’t get me wrong – I know that plenty of intelligent and wonderful women have these feelings and that they are valid but it just annoyed me.
However, as the book moves on I realised that Beth is going through the various stages of grief for a lost relationship. She is, at times, angry, maudlin and scared – and I guess these are not things which inspire instant admiration. The way she develops though (without forgetting what Adam has put her through) means that, as you get to know her, you learn to admire the strong woman she becomes. Oddly, it is at this point that her country-pop songwriting career really takes off. It seems you really do need to suffer to be able to write this kind of stuff…
This is a debut novel but actually it is a very assured piece of writing. I wanted to be able to like Beth from the start but, by the end, I realised that I liked her more for seeing her initial weaknesses. How could I see her become strong and independent if she’d already been that at the start? And Adam, well, you don’t totally forget what he has done and the suffering he has caused but you do get to understand some of the things that made him the man he is. You forgive him and wish him well for the future by the end of the story.
Funny and ever so slightly heart-breaking. If you enjoyed reading One Day then this could be a good book for you.