The way we were (by Marcia Willett)

I've enjoyed novels by Marcia Willett over many years now. I've been re-reading some of them, but am always pleased when I'm given a new one - and rarely disappointed.

'The way we were' is cleverly written, with the perspective switching from 1976 to 2004, alternating throughout the book. At the start of the story (in 1976) Tiggy is given a bronze model of Merlin by her beloved grandmother, just before she goes to stay with her close friend Julia. There's evidently some unpleasant history related to Tiggy's father, which gradually becomes clear throughout the book, but the early part deals with her pain at the tragic loss of her fiancé in an accident.

The plot unfolds gradually, between the different chronological perspectives, so that when another tragedy takes place in the earlier time frame, we already know, with hindsight, that it's going to. It's still moving, but not as shocking as it could have been.

I found the number of characters a bit confusing, particularly with those who appear as children in the 1970s and adults in 2004, However, I found the story compelling enough that I managed to keep track of most of them. At first I was content to read just a chapter or so each night, but by the time I was half-way through I was eager to know the end, and read the second half almost in one sitting.

Great writing, with some suspense, a few tugs on the heartstrings, and, overall, a satisfying story. Recommended.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th February 2011

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