20/06/2012

The Day You Saved My Life (by Louise Candlish)

It's nearly three years since I was first sent one of Louise Candlish's books by The Bookbag site, for review. I enjoyed it very much, and started looking for some of her other books, which I have also read and liked. So I was delighted when I was contacted by The Bookbag, again, and offered her latest novel for review.

'The day you saved my life' is quite long - nearly 500 pages - but I found it difficult to put down once I had started. It begins with high drama: Joanna, her seriously depressed daughter Holly, and Holly's toddler son Mikey are in Paris for a few days, taking a trip down the Seine on a pleasure boat. We're told in the first sentence of Chapter One that a terrible accident is going to take place, and it's not hard to guess what will happen.

Also on the cruise are James and Alexa, a young couple about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. James has been rather distant, and Alexa has planned this trip in the hope of revitalising what they once had together. She thinks that maybe he's starting to relax, if nothing else, when he leaps into the fray in the wake of the accident, and is hailed a hero.

This is the catalyst for dramatic change for several people, and the book follows the next few months of their lives.

The story is told from three viewpoints: Joanna, Holly and Alexa. I liked Joanna very much. She has a rather sordid past, resulting from an unhappy childhood where her sister was clearly their parents' favourite. But she has redeemed that by working hard, raising Holly in an atmosphere of love, and now giving Mikey most of his care.

Alexa was hard to like  - she's prickly, perfectionist and controlling. But it's a testament to the excellence of the writing that I could still feel sorry for her, unhappy due to events that were not at al her fault. I was pleased when she finally found the strength to move on with her life and to let go of some of her pain.

As for Holly.. she's central to the story, but I found her rather demanding and selfish at first.  Still, she does grow up during the course of the book even though it was impossible to condone what she did. .

Thought-provoking in many ways, raising quite a few moral issues to do with family relationships.

Definitely recommended.

You can also read my longer review of 'The day you saved my life' at the Bookbag site.

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