31 July 2012

Book Review: The Day You Saved My Life by Louise Candlish

"A child falls into the river.

A stranger jumps in to rescue him.

And four lives are changed for ever . . .

On a perfect summer's day in Paris, tourists on the river watch in shock as a small boy falls into the Seine and disappears below the surface. As his mother stands frozen, a stranger takes a breath and leaps . . .

From the internationally bestselling author of Since I Don't Have You comes a spellbinding story of passion, heartbreak and destiny - an unforgettable novel about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the extraordinary ways that life and love intersect."

Rating: 4.5/5

I have to confess that I haven't really read the last few of Louise Candlish's releases, but there was something about this book that really intrigued. I thought the whole idea sounded great, and really different from anything else I was reading at the moment, and the cover stands out with its bright blue and red too, so I decided to take a chance. My previous gripes with Candlish's books are that they are awfully predictable despite claiming to have big twists, so I was hoping that this book, which has been a couple of years in the making, was going to break the mould and be one that made Candlish one of my "ones to watch" for the future. Luckily I wasn't disappointed, and this is most definitely her best book to date, and here's why!

Joanna, her daughter Holly and grandson Mikey are in Paris for a short holiday to try and give Joanna a break, and help Holly out of the awful depression she is suffering from. However, when they're on a tourist boat ride, tragedy strikes when Mikey suddenly falls overboard into the river Seine. Holly is stunned, and luckily a stranger jumps in and saves Mikey from drowning. Back on shore, James and wife Alexa, who are in Paris to try and save their ailing marriage, are thrust into the limelight when the press find out it was James who jumped in to save the baby boy's life. Returning back to London and normality, Holly begins to come back around again and realise how much being a mother means to her, and starts a journey that is set to change the lives of everyone around her for good. But is Holly taking on her actions for the right reasons, and will James and Alexa survive their rocky patch?

There was something about this book that was really captivating, and I really did enjoy every single page, although it wasn't what I was expecting when I began reading. I don't know what I really expected, but it just felt new and fresh, and totally unlike anything I've read by Candlish before. I found her narrative voice in the novel, which chopped and changed between the characters, was clear and easy to read, and it moved about and around the characters with ease, keeping you in the loop with all of their lives, and making you feel a range of emotions about these very different people. The first part of the book is set in Paris when the accident occurs, but the remainder of the book takes place in London, when the action really starting hotting up and things start changing for them all. The accident, I have to say, is written so incredibly realistically, I almost wanted to stop reading because it was so horrible to read, especially as a mother, and I think it's this hard-hitting realism that makes the book so readable.

Joanna is the eldest character in the book, and the one I really felt sorry for throughout. She's done an amazing job of raising daughter Holly all by herself, and also becoming a young grandmother, and subsequently almost raising Mikey single-handed when Holly suffers from crippling depression. Candlish writes about this issue with a harsh sense of reality, it isn't pretty and it isn't easy to read, but I like that she didn't dress it up, and made you realise how awful Holly felt her life was and how it affected not only her but those closest to her too. I felt desperately sorry for Holly, even as she does the things she does later in the book which I really disagreed with - I felt she was just a lost little girl, and although she puts on a brave face, I don't think all was okay behind the front she puts on. The female characters are so well written, particularly Alexa who I enjoyed reading about so much, seeing a character like her unwind in front of my eyes was fabulous and I was left wondering what she'd do next.

The only male characters in the book worth mentioning are Mikey, the gorgeous son of Holly, and James, Alexa's husband. If I'm honest, although he did a heroic thing, he was someone I instantly disliked, and as the book went on, it just solidified in my mind even more why I didn't like him! However, he's a great contrast to the others in the book, and was the perfect "knight in shining armour" for the story. Candlish weaves the separate stories together with ease, describing the ups and downs of the characters live with real feeling, and I really couldn't predict if it was going to happily ever after for all of them in the end or not. I really was left guessing with this one, and while in parts the action did slow down, it was a fabulous read, and it was a book that really had me enthralled and gripped right from the off. A triumphant return for Candlish, and it makes me excited to read more from this author! A great must-read for the summer.

You can buy The Day You Saved My Life as a paperback or an eBook now!

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