8 October 2009

Book Review: Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor

Lucy Brown has got it all - a great fiancé, her perfect wedding is all planned and her life is just how she wants it. She's all set to marry Dan, but then the unthinkable happens - Lucy dies. She wakes up in limbo and is offered a choice - she can go up to heaven for eternity, or return to earth as ghost, and therefore be around Dan once more.

Lucy misses Dan terribly and decides she must stay with him, but she doesn't bank on having to complete a mission first. Lucy must find the soulmate of computer geek Archibald, a huge in itself... let alone in only a few days! Will Lucy do it and manage to become a ghost or is she destined to a life without Dan?

This is a book I have been wanting to read for a long time. It's not usually the sort of thing I read as I tend not to like anything "supernatural" or unrealistic, but I had heard such good things about Cally Taylor's debut that I just couldn't wait. Finally my copy arrived this week and I eagerly started to read as I wanted to make my mind up about whether I was going to devour it or wait a while. 100 pages later, I realised I was hooked, and didn't stop until it was finished. Cally Taylor has previously written short stories for magazines etc but this is her first novel, and thats what makes this even more outstanding for me.

The book begins by introducing us to Lucy, who is preparing for her wedding to Dan. I immediately liked Lucy, she's a great character and very realistic - some of the things she says I can hear myself saying! She's funny and very normal, which I think is great because the story is a little "un-normal" of course! Lucy's death happens very, very early in the book but it has to in order for the main bulk of the story to happen. It didn't surprise me as I knew from the blurb she'd die but how it did shocked me a bit, a little more shocking than I thought  but it isn't dwelled on and I think Taylor has approached the issue very well. We also see a little of Dan who is a great character too, and I really liked the relationship between him and Lucy, it seemed lovely and was joyful to read about.

The thing I loved about this book is how well Taylor manages to transfer Lucy's feelings of helplessness and grief at losing Dan onto paper so well. She writes with real emotion and I think this helps the reader to engage in the story a lot more because you are almost feeling every emotion along with Lucy. Some clever little things are thrown into the mix such as the rules Lucy must obey as one of the "living dead" and I found some of these quite funny, and some very sad too. The other two "undead" we meet, Claire and Brian, are brilliantly written, troubled souls who you begin to feel such empathy for and I think this is again because of Taylor's writing and how well she puts across their feelings and situation.

I was unsure about how the idea of ghosts and "living dead" would be to read about and how Taylor would be able to put this story onto paper but for me it worked really well. She's created a believable plot, which is no mean feat considering its something we know could never happen! You are willing Lucy's mission to succeed so she can be united with her beloved Dan but at the same time, you know it won't ever bring them together again so there is an element of sadness. It is everyone's worst nightmare, leaving behind someone you love and having to deal with not being with them again, and Lucy has to experience this. The ending was a complete surprise, I didn't expect the things that occured and for me it rounded off a brilliant perfectly - now I think about it, it couldn't have ended any other way!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found myself ploughing through it incredibly quickly because I just couldn't put it down. By the end, I really cared about Lucy (and Brian and Claire too!) and this is testament to how well Cally Taylor has created her as a character and put her story into words. There are some funny moments, some cringy moments but also some touching moments where I admit there was a slight tear in my eye! The emotions of love and loss are well used here and the story is really well crafted. The book is divided into the days of Lucy's tasks via chapters, and the writing style is so easy to read. I love first person stories, and being in Lucy's mind just lets the reader love her even more. It's a great book to read, and one for the cold winter evenings to warm your heart. Brilliant.

Rating: 5/5


  1. Great review, thanks! I cannot wait for my copy of this to arrive.

  2. I'll be reviewing this shortly as it was sent to me also. Have read it twice because it's so brilliant - my favourite book this year! Great review! :)

  3. I really want this too. :(

  4. Hi :)
    Thank you for the excellent review.
    I'm putting HEAVEN CAN WAIT on my ToBeRead list.

  5. Меня это не беспокоит. (Translated: It does not disturb me)

  6. this book was amazing i spent late nights reading this book... good job cally! XD