The Message by Julie Highmore

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The Message by Julie Highmore

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Jen thinks that her marriage to Robert is rock solid. That is until the day she receives a message from his mobile phone that is clearly not intended for her. She can either ignore it or confront the implications of what this means for her and Robert. In doing so, and assessing her marriage, she also starts to think about a long forgotten relationship from the past.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: December 2009
Publisher: Headline Review
ISBN: 978-0755343010

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The Message is very much a twenty first century tale as it all hinges on a voicemail message made from a mobile phone. It is also based on the fact that it is very easy to send a message to one person when it is actually meant for someone else. This is what happens to Jen when she receives a message from her husband Robert. There is nothing particularly special about this message; that is until Jen realises that she is not the intended recipient and then it has a shattering effect on her marriage.

The message is received on the very first page of the book. From then on, there are two parallel stories for the reader to follow. Firstly there is the story of what happens to Jen and Robert's marriage. However, there is also another story that takes place thirty years earlier and tells of Jen's life growing up as a sergeant's daughter on a German army base and of how she fell in love for the first time. Ultimately, the two stories merge in a poignant but not unexpected climax as she is reunited with Kit, her first love.

I felt that the two storylines weaved together very well and it was easy to move back and forward in time with Jen. There was a good pace and the suggestion of certain events that might have occurred which really made me want to read on and find out what had happened, particularly in Jen's earlier life. Both stories were quite intriguing but it was also fascinating for the reader to see how Jen had changed over time. In Germany she was a timid young thing too afraid to stand up for herself and as a consequence she could have been accused of being a doormat. This is not the case with the older successful Jen who definitely knows what she will or will not tolerate in her marriage. However, on meeting Kit again, some of those older insecurities do threaten to resurface especially when she unexpectedly meets up with his formidable mother.

Jen is a great central character both as a young girl and a woman. From the moment I started reading I liked her and I wanted things to turn out well for her. She is also very much the stronger character particularly when compared to the men in her life.

The story only occurs because of a small slip of the finger on Robert's mobile phone but it does demonstrate how all our lives are bound up in the complexities of technology these days. More so though, the story illustrates the complexities of relationships and that is one thing that has not changed over time. Overall though, this is an absorbing story that manages pathos and humour equally well. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Highmore's The Birthday.

If The Message appeals to you, take a look at Rose Petal Soup by Sarah Harrison. This is another book about an older woman coming to terms with major changes in her life.

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Buy The Message by Julie Highmore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Message by Julie Highmore at


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