21 May 2012
Book Review: Ten Years On by Alice Peterson
Last year, I read and really enjoyed a book called Monday to Friday Man by an author called Alice Peterson, someone I hadn't read or heard of before. It was a fun look at strangers becoming lodgers, and a dog walking club and I really enjoyed the read. Then when I was sent a review copy of her new book, Ten Years On, I was quite excited to read it - I loved the cover with its shades of red and orange, it looks really fresh and quite different to any other covers I have seen out there too. I have to say I wasn't expecting quite the emotional rollercoaster that I got when reading the book, and thoroughly enjoyed every single page.
Rebecca thought her life was going exactly to plan, but when her husband Olly is tragically killed in a motorcycle accident, she finds everything has been turned upside-down and she doesn't know how to move on. Couple that with the fact she's just gotten some shocking news herself, and Rebecca really doesn't know where to turn, and ends up living back home with her mother and father again. Back in her home town, she surprisingly bumps into her old friend Joe, who now owns a snazzy wine bar and is dating actress Peta. But Rebecca and Joe hadn't spoken for many years, since something happened that they'd both rather forget. What is the terrible secret that the pair are hiding, and how will Rebecca be able to move on without her love by her side?
From the synopsis, you can probably tell this isn't going to be an easy read due to the main topic being the death of the main character's husband. This happens pretty early in the book, and sets us up for the rest of the story quite easily, with Rebecca then having to deal with the death of her husband, and the surprising news she gets shortly after hearing of Olly's death. What I loved about this book though is the way that the story is told. Of course, the majority of it is set in the present day but in the middle of this, we are suddenly sent back in time to Rebecca and Olly's time at university, with their friend Joe and the things that happen there. These are triggered by either memories Rebecca is having at the time, or because of something that happens in the story, and I loved how their past was being bit by bit.
The characters were all really well written, and I felt Peterson does a good job with Rebecca and handles the storyline of her grief sensitively, but with enough feeling that the reader can feel emotional along with her too. The fact she hears from Olly throughout the book is quite moving, and I found this to be a quite lovely addition. Considering the things that happen to Rebecca, she deals with them really well, and I was hoping her character would have something good happen to her. Her friend Joe was a different kettle of fish, dark and a bit mysterious, and I really liked reading about him. He's clearly a troubled person, and there was a storyline involving him and his father which was very emotional and so well written, and somehow worked with the main story too, it was certainly a good addition, and makes you think. I guessed the terrible secret Rebecca and Joe were hiding, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book, and found myself willing for something to happen between two characters who deserved happiness very much.
One thing about this book I loved was the detail Peterson goes into about the wine business, and how easy it is to read about. Personally, I don't drink wine as I just don't like it, but I found it fascinating to read about the things Joe and the other characters talk about, particularly on the wine-tasting course that happens in the book. Peterson has clearly done her research but presents it in a readable way that doesn't bog you down with detail but it certainly got my interest! Overall, this was a wonderful and emotional read of love, loss and picking yourself up and carrying on with the hand you've been given. It's a moral message of how important family is in your life, and Rebecca's changing relationship with her parents and sister is one I am sure a lot of us will be able to recognise in some forms. I found Peterson's writing was fantastic, and had me turning the pages until I reached the end. It deals with a sensitive topic with grace and empathy, and you'll certainly be moved by Rebecca's story. A heart-warming and touching read.
You can buy Ten Years On as a paperback or an eBook now!