John Knox falls passionately and irrevocably in love with Rachel McAllistair the first time they meet. He interviews her for his radio show, and afterwards, when he tells her how impressive she was, she hits him, square on the jaw. Undeterred, he pursues her, promising to love her and never to leave her.
This promise becomes his burden, as her behaviour whirls out of control. She is abusive and cruel. And yet he stays. Even when she does something so awful that his life is changed forever. And that point, on which his life turns, leads him to an unexpected connection with a man who suffered a terrible injury in the first world war.
When I was sent this book it didn’t have this blurb on the back, instead it had a quote from the book “For all the years I’ve spent trying to figure it out, I have no clue what outrage you thought those words contained”. This meant I went into this reading experience somewhat blind, and this excited me. I can’t remember the last time I read a book i knew next to nothing about, and the information I had received really intrigued me. It felt like a mystery, and I was soon to discover this was pretty appropriate….
I only have one annoyance with this book, so I will get that out of the way first. I know she suffers from mental illness, but Rachel doesn’t seem to have any redeeming features to indicate why anyone could or would fall in love with her. She is over dramatic, dangerous, extremely temperamental to the point of ridiculousness, has abandoned people important to her in the past, runs away constantly without any explanation and is the perpetrator of an escalating and frightening array of domestic violence. She also changes Jon’s life for the negative in some huge ways, but I can’t get into without hitting the big spoiler button. Maybe if she seemed nicer from the start and these personality traits showed themselves slowly I could understand why he’d want to stay with her, but one of the first things she did when they first met was punch him in the face (which he lied to cover up), so I spent most of my time reading this wondering how this relationship ever came to be in the first place!
Not that Jon is a particularly likeable character, and most defiantly not at the start of the book, however likeable characters are not important for a book to be good, I think that is important to remember. It’s a trap people often fall into, mistaking the dislike of a character a dislike of the book.
This book was defiantly enjoyable, and I find the plot intriguing, although i have to admit I preferred it much more when Rachel wasn’t in it less. The writing is beautiful, almost poetic, and reminds me of Lolita in some ways. Things really got more interesting for me about 1/3 of the way through the book, a seemingly unrelated narrative appears and for a while it seems like you are reading two completely different books, and then later it all links in and well….you’re just going to have to read it to understand what I am getting at because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone! This is the hardest part of a book review, not giving away the best bits!
However if you do want to read it, you’re in luck, as I have been allowed to give away a brand new shiny copy as a giveaway, you lucky, lucky things. If you don’t want to wait that long you can grab it on Amazon.
P.S Creating a new domain unfortunately means that google has to delete all my past comments, so show me some love!