Thursday, 11 August 2016

Book Review: These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton


 


Title: These Days of Ours
Author: Juliet Ashton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 1 March 2016

Twitter: @julietstories
Website: http://www.berniestrachan.com/

Rating: 4 out of 5

Blurb 

A novel about love. Raw important love. Small, beautiful love. And what happens when the person you love cannot be yours… Perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Jane Green and David Nicholls.

Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends. They have grown up together and shared all the most important milestones in their lives: childhood birthday parties, eighteenth birthdays, and now a wedding day as they each marry their childhood sweethearts, Charlie and Julian.

Kate has always loved Charlie - they were meant to be. Then she discovers that life never turns out quite how you expect it to. And love doesn't always follow the journey it should.

But best friends are forever, and true love will find a way, won't it…? 

Review

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of this book for review.
 
On receiving the book, I was immediately drawn in by the subtly beautiful cover and on starting the book I was immediately keen to read more. The book is somewhat of a slow-burner, however once I became used to the pace, I enjoyed the gentle flow and found myself gripped by the sheer amount of emotion conveyed in each and every scene.
 
These Days of Ours is the story of 2 friends/cousins, cleverly told through snapshots from important life events (i.e. birthday parties, weddings etc…) spanning a period of 30-40 years. This allows the tale to both cover a large period of time whilst still enabling the author to provide a sufficient level of detail for each scene, whilst not having to recount the minutiae of their lives. For me, this proved a very effective and creative way to tell the story. I was immediately drawn into their lives and struggled to put the book down.
 
The tale itself is raw and emotive, as you would expect when told through significant life events, although the author has also interjected some well-placed humour in order to lighten the tone in sections. This prevents the story from becoming too heavy emotionally and allows room for a few gentle chuckles along the way.
 
The 2 main protagonists are great characters. Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends, but they are very different characters. Kate is calmer, thoughtful and kind. Becca is louder, selfish and a little bit spiteful. I would certainly say that I preferred Kate as a character, however I did find Becca’s more complex nature intriguing. It was interesting to experience their relationship from children to middle-aged women, watching how it ebbed and flowed over the years. A beautiful example of a challenging friendship and an interesting study on how relationships change through time and shared experiences.
 
The supporting characters are interesting to read about and I found my feelings towards Charlie and, to a lesser extent, Julian twisting and changing throughout the book, I suppose mirroring the protagonists’ feelings towards those same supporting characters.
 
The tale focuses on the relationships between the characters –friendships, romances and family relationships. The story particularly made me think back on all of my lost friendships, whether due to distance or misunderstandings, and how those relationships may have changed if we had remained in touch. It also made me consider whether there is a ‘perfect moment’ for a relationship. My husband and I often say that if we had met a couple of years earlier, we would probably not be together now. These Days of Ours reminds the reader that our lives really are a sum of our past experiences.
 
In my opinion, These Days of Ours is a truly beautiful story and a satisfying read. It is a thought-provoking, emotional and humorous tale of love, life, laughter and friendship.
 
About the Author

I enjoy writing almost as much as I love reading. Books are constant friends; no fall-outs about borrowed shoes, no lusting after the same man. The books I write are about love in all its colours. Romantic love, of course - it makes the world go round, after all - but also family love, the way we feel about our friends and children and colleagues and the woman we see every day on the bus but never say 'hello' to.

There's no end of inspiration. Most authors are baffled by that commonly asked question, "Where do you get your ideas from?" The answer is simple: YOU. People are inspiring, with all their niggling faults and shimmering virtues. The tangles we get ourselves into, and the ludicrous ways we attempt to untangle ourselves, are a never ending source of material. In fact, most authors daren't use too much real life in their books because it would sound too much like fiction.
 
I've just remembered that this is supposed to be a biog, so here's some info about me. I live just outside London with my daughter, Niamh, who's 12, and my husband, Matthew, who's considerably older than that. The house hums with creativity, as I scribble downstairs and Matthew composes music for theatre and TV upstairs. We have two dogs, one of whom is wildly energetic, one of whom was born an old lady and prefers to sleep all day.
 
Hmm, what else? I'm Irish, but you wouldn't know that from my accent. I can't sing. My favourite crisp flavour is Roast Chicken, but I reserve the right to change that at short notice.
I hope you enjoy my books. They are the way I speak to the world.


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