07/12/2002

Everything to Gain (by Barbara Taylor Bradford)

Although Barbara Taylor Bradford is a prolific author, whose novels I have often noticed both in new and second-hand bookshops, I had not - until recently - ever read any of her work. However, one of my relatives enjoys these books, so when I saw one on special offer, with interesting blurb on the back, I thought I would try it.

When 'Everything to Gain' begins, we meet Mallory, a young woman who is very uncertain what to do about a marriage proposal. She has obviously been deeply scarred by the death of her husband some years previously.

As she considers, the story takes us back to the last year of Mallory's marriage, when she is contented and fulfilled. She has a loving husband, delightful twins, good friends, pleasant relatives, and a charming house. We follow her life during the time.

Even with the warning in the first chapter, the tragedy is shocking when it finally happens. I found myself feeling deeply with Mallory as she falls first into almost suicidal despair, and then - gradually - begins to build a new life out of the ruins.

In the last chapters, the novel arrives back at the place where the story began in the prologue, but this time we as readers know what's in her mind, and root for her as she makes her decision.

I thought this novel was very well-written, with well-drawn characters and a deeply moving plot. Gripping and realistic. Definitely recommended.

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