My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Robbie and Emily have been together for a long time. They clearly love each other very much. But what is the secret they are keeping? What was so bad that they’ve lost contact with friends and family over it?
I’m not totally sure how to review this. As a writer, I loved it. The book is written backwards – given the story, it was probably the only way you could tell the story. At a technical level, it’s fascinating. You start with the day Robbie dies and go back in steps, each section revealing a part of the story, but raising more questions than were there before. There is a twist at the end that makes everything fall into place. The writing is beautiful (as always).
As a reader, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. Both Robbie and Emily are nice enough, but it took me a long time to get into it. I found I didn’t care as much about the why of their relationship as I’d expected to. In general, the start of the story (end of the book) was more interesting than the end (start of the book). For me, Julie Cohen’s books tend to be the sort where I burn the supper because I can’t bear to put them down and try to read and cook at the same time, so I’m a bit puzzled by this. Perhaps it’s the fact that you know where they end up.
In general, this book is unusual (both in structure and in subject matter) and a very thought provoking read. I’m still thinking about it.
My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me a review copy. I know Julie, but I was a fan of her books well before I met her.