Nothing Lasts Forever by Maureen Lee
|Nothing Lasts Forever by Maureen Lee|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Pleasant enough light women's fiction without much depth; fine for holidays or weekends. It feels more like 1960s Liverpool than contemporary.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 336||Date: July 2009|
Brodie and Colin's marriage had been rejuvenated since their children left home... until recently. Their daughter has become a drug addict, and Colin wants to wash his hands of her. Colin's annoying father spends most of his days with them, including mealtimes. Brodie is getting more and more frustrated, and eventually decides to move out, into a house she owns, which has just become empty. She wants to let some of the rooms, and quickly finds three very different women to share the house with her.
There's Diana, a cheerful and generous young woman who has been looking after her younger brothers until recently. The oldest of them has a pregnant girlfriend who moved into the family home, making Diana feel unwanted. So she decides to take a room in Brodie's house, and they quickly become close friends.
Then there's Vanessa, an opinionated young businesswoman who was going to be married until her fiancé decided - at the last moment - that he simply couldn't face it. Since then she has become quite depressed and gained a lot of weight. She wants to drop out of her job and cut herself off from her family for a year, while she attempts to sort her life out again.
And there's Rachel, a teenager with a baby, who does not want the baby taken away from her and adopted. Her boyfriend is a wealthy American who gives her plenty of money for support, so she too takes a room in Brodie's house to escape from her parents.
There's a lot of potential for a great story with these diverse characters sharing a house for a year. Throw in a refuge centre where Diana works, a lovely art shop salesman, a lonely nine-year-old next-door, Brodie's lively eighty-year-old mother, and a few others to add some extra seasoning, and stir...
Unfortunately, it didn't really work for me. Perhaps there were too many characters, with too many associated viewpoints. I wanted to get to know at least some of them, but couldn't find myself feeling much empathy with any of them. Moreover, some of them seemed to change for no apparent reason, making them seem rather unbelievable.
There's a lot of back story which is described for each of the characters, some of which I felt was unnecessary, and rather too many conversations over cups of tea which didn't go anywhere. There are several interesting subplots to the book, which kept me reading and wondering what was going to happen; most of them were resolved satisfactorily, although there's an unpleasant climax to the book which I wasn't expecting. Perhaps I should have, as there were some foreshadowings, but it didn't help the story although it certainly precipitated the conclusion.
The book is mostly set in 2006, yet the setting and language felt to me as if it were one of the popular 1960s Liverpool sagas. Mention of mobile phones and microwaves felt like anachronisms, jolting me back to the present. Perhaps I'm unfair; maybe people in Liverpool do still speak and behave much as they did almost fifty years ago. But I can't help feeling that this book would have worked better if it had been set in that period, rather than competing with contemporary novels.
I don't want to be entirely negative about it. The story works well, the conversations are mostly realistic, the sub-plots weave together nicely, and the overall flow of the book is good. Although I didn't find it gripping, I read it for half an hour or so each evening for a week and was pleased that I didn't have to back-track to find out who was whom. It would be the ideal kind of book for a holiday: it can be put down at a moment's notice and returned to at any point.
Still, Maureen Lee is a popular and fairly prolific writer, so it's quite likely that her fans will disagree with what I have written. If you enjoy her books, or if you like books set in Liverpool in any era, then perhaps you'll love this novel.
My thanks to the publishers for sending the book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Nothing Lasts Forever by Maureen Lee at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Nothing Lasts Forever by Maureen Lee at Amazon.com.
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