Ten Years On by Alice Peterson
|Ten Years On by Alice Peterson|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Deceptively light, this is an unputdownable novel encompassing tragic loss, the slow coming to terms with grief, the importance of friendship, and the great variety of human nature.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 410||Date: May 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
The prologue of this book sees 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, talking about the future. They wonder what they might be doing in ten years' time...
We're then transported ten years ahead, to the middle of a funeral. A horrible 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 up with some old schoolfriends, and then attempts to resume communication with Joe. They lost touch a long time ago after an incident which is hinted at early in the book.
This is a character-driven story, exploring themes of loss and grief, the rediscovery of love, family jealousies and close ties across the generations. It also looks at the importance of following one's dreams rather than doing what one is expected to do by relatives or teachers. Becca is a believable person whom I found myself relating to quite strongly as she seeks to take charge of her life, trying to find out what she really wants to do.
The writing is wonderful, the characterisation mostly very good, with a few caricatured extras. The theme could have been rather morbid; but it's beautifully done, and a potentially odd supernatural element of the story feels realistic and oddly encouraging. I loved the growing friendship between Becca and Joe, and also the healing that starts to take place in her family. There are several flashback chapters, clearly labelled as such, where we gradually find out the background to Becca's current life. It's cleverly done.
There are a few rather erudite sections with subjects as varied as porcelain, tennis, local history and wine-tasting; I'm not particularly interested in any of these, but they came across as conversation, not so detailed as to be boring, and adding to the personalities of the people discussing them.
There are some lovely minor characters in the book. I think my favourite is Janet, the elderly neighbour who has almost lost her eyesight, but is still very interested in her young friends' lives. Becca can talk to her in a way that is difficult with her contemporaries, and she offers friendly, non-judgemental advice. I liked Adam, too. He's a young man with some kind of learning disability and terrible clothes sense, who says exactly what he thinks and has some surprising strengths.
Having said that, I could have done without a few of Becca's old school and university friends - I found myself a little confused at the number of people involved and sometimes lost track of who was whom. However, it's really my only gripe, and it didn't matter all that much. My mind glazed over slightly when one or two of them appeared, but their scenes were usually short and didn't add anything much to the story.
I was gripped within a couple of chapters and finished this in just three days. Definitely recommended.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending this to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Ten Years On by Alice Peterson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Ten Years On by Alice Peterson at Amazon.com.
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