14/05/2012

Ten Years On (by Alice Peterson)

It's only relatively recently that I discovered Alice Peterson, thanks to the Bookbag site who sent me one of her books about five years ago. I have read a couple of others since then and enjoyed them very much, so when I spotted that her latest novel was on the Bookbag shelves, I requested it at once.

I was not sorry! 'Ten Years On' is a wonderful book, which I could hardly put down.  It begins with a prologue showing Becca with her student friends at a New Year's Eve party. Afterwards, she and her boyfriend Ollie and their flatmate Joe hang out for a while, wondering what they might be doing in ten years' time...

We're then taken ten years ahead, to a funeral. A tragic accident has shattered Becca's life and she has no idea how to deal with it. She goes to live with her parents for a while, meets some old school-friends, and then attempts to resume communication with Joe, whom she had lost touch with.

It's a character-driven book, exploring themes of loss and grief, the rediscovery of love, family jealousies and ties across the generations. It also looks at the importance of following one's dreams. I found myself relating quite strongly to Becca as she starts to take charge of her life, trying to find out what she really wants to do.

The theme could have been rather morbid; but it's beautifully done, and a potentially odd supernatural element of the story feels surprisingly realistic - and even encouraging. My only slight complaint is the sheer number of characters - I found some of the school-friends rather flat and lost track of who they were; they didn't seem to add much to the story. However there were also some very likeable minor characters - the elderly Janet and the oddly-dressed Adam spring to mind. I rather liked  Becca's dad, too.

Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys light women's fiction.

You can also read my longer review of 'Ten years on' at the Bookbag site.

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