I’m really happy to share with you an extract from the first chapter of The Way We Were by Irish author Sinéad Moriarty. When I was approached about the book this synopsis grabbed my attention straight away.
The Way We Were is a novel that asks; how would you cope if your husband, a Doctor giving aid abroad, is declared missing and presumed dead? How would you handle your own pain when you need to be strong for your grieving children?
And, what would you do if, when just as you and your family have started to move on and build a new life, your husband turns up on your doorstep?
Part 1 London, October 2012
Kevin locked up the surgery and handed Alice the keys.
‘God, I’m tired today.’ Alice yawned. ‘It’s been non-stop.’
‘It’s such a bitch being so popular,’ Kevin said, grinning.
Alice smiled. ‘I’m glad to be busy, but I’d just love a soak
in the bath instead of a long evening wrestling with Jools
about homework. And now Ben’s invited David and Pippa
for dinner tomorrow night, so I’ll have to go to the shops on
my way home.’
‘Maybe Ben will come home early tomorrow and help
cook for his friends.’
‘Fat chance.’ Alice sighed. ‘I love David and Pippa, but
dinner at nine on a Tuesday night just doesn’t suit me. I’m
always so tired after dealing with Jools.’
‘You should have said no, then.’
Alice smiled at the idea. Kevin had never really grasped
the concept of compromise in relationships. Which was
probably why his never lasted very long.
Please click here for the full extract.
(I had difficulty viewing the PDF using firefox until I updated my PDF viewer – try viewing the blog in Chrome if this is the case for you too)
This is the first book of Sinéad’s that I have read and it is adult contemporary fiction – not my usual genre, but, as I said above the premise was so intriguing.
The Way We Were is told from three different points of view: married couple Alice and Ben and their youngest daughter Holly (aged 11 -13). The adults’ sections are in third person but Holly’s is first person.
Now, I have to say I didn’t really like how Ben was at the beginning of the book although after ‘the incident’ I warmed to him and I loved the relationship between him and Declan (another doctor). I think maybe I’m quite like Kevin in the snippet above, not all that familiar with compromise in relationships and so Ben seemed initially seemed quite like someone who might irritate me. Especially, as we have some pre-insight to what is to come, I was as annoyed as Alice at his decision to go to Eritrea in Africa. As a health professional the idea of Doctors without Borders has always been really interesting to me but also very scary and I can’t say this book really added to my pros list for offering my services anytime soon but it has increased my respect for those that do and obviously the situation here is a very extreme one.
Even though, as the reader you are aware that Ben is still alive you are very much taken on the bereavement journey with Alice, Holly and Jools (the older daughter) and identify with Alice’s conflict about moving on. I also found myself swept up in her new relationship and felt sick and as stuck as she does when Ben returns. I don’t think this book will split people into “Team Ben” and “Team Dan” factions though. Instead most people I see joining “Team Poor Alice has a near impossible choice” instead, especially as no one here is perfect.
I tend to judge a book by how much emotion it makes me feel so the fact that my eyes were often brimming, and at points overflowing with tears means it gets thumbs up from me. I did almost find this uncomfortable at times and maybe that’s why I shy away from this genre – a bit too realistic? I definitely recognised aspects of the book in things I see and hear around me. But, I can cope with grit and this book has that in spades, although there is also a fair bit of humour and, thanks to Declan, a few knock knock jokes that I was unfamiliar with.
In Holly’s section you see her grow from a fairly naive young girl to someone prepared to step forward and have her say in situations that perhaps would have scared her to start with. As a slightly geeky bookish character I did find myself drawn to her.
As an avid young adult fiction reader the only thing I might have liked to have seen was some scenes from Jools, the teenage daughter’s (16-18) point of view. Although, seeing her through the eyes of the other three, you still get a good sense of what she is like. I just would have liked to have gained a little more insight into her particular response to the tragedy. Considering her fascination with Keeping Up with the Kardashians though, perhaps Sinéad made the best choice!
Themes of family, love, bereavement, war and plenty of conflict meant this was a book I didn’t want to put down although at times I had to, unless I wanted soggy pages. Thanks Sinéad for the heartbreak.
Please take a look at the other blogs involved in the tour where you will find further extracts and interviews with the author.
Thank you to Rose at Penguin Random House who provided me with a review copy of the book. This did not affect the content of my review.