Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: Where I Found You

By Becky Gulc

‘Maggie Carter knows Victoria Park like the back of her hand. She can tell you what time of year the most fragrant flowers bloom; she knows which paths lead you to the bench by the lake. The park is her safe place – because outside it, expecting her first baby, Maggie has started to wonder whether she’s going to be able to cope.

One woman who can’t escape her past

Elsa, too, is expecting her first child, and alone and without anyone to support her, she is terrified that her child will be taken away. But all is not as it seems: the secrets of sixty years ago are haunting Elsa and they won’t let her rest…

Bound together by the present

Struggling under the expectations and intentions of others, Maggie and Elsa’s chance meeting on the park bench offers them each a lifeline and a friend. As they reveal their hopes and heartaches, can they see themselves – and each other – clearly enough to help, before it’s too late?’ (Synopsis courtesy of HarperCollins UK)

This synopsis appealed to me; two women with very different circumstances but both expecting their first child, drawn together through a timely meeting on a park bench. It would be quite hard to write a review of this book without mentioning what the synopsis doesn’t divulge, that Maggie is visually impaired, and Elsa is in fact in her eighties but suffers from dementia, with her mind taunting her, increasingly taking her back to a very difficult time in her life.

I was surprised to learn of both these revelations as they just weren’t what I was expecting. I thought the build up to Maggie’s visual impairment being revealed to the reader was very clever, making it clear that in so many respects someone with such a disability will go about their day to day lives, and have the same day to day worries much the same as everyone else, I didn’t see this reveal coming. Once informed, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised to be reading a book with a lead character with such a physical disability, I can’t recall any other books I’ve read with such a lead character so for me it offers something different for the reader.

I enjoyed the character of Maggie, a very strong and likeable character who experiences many of the same fears as anyone who is about to become a parent. However, when it becomes quite obvious to Maggie that her mother-in-law doesn’t believe she can be a ‘normal’ parent, Maggie’s inner qualms about her own ability to be a good parent surface and she questions herself repeatedly. I thought the attention to detail and internal dialogue surrounding Maggie’s fears were very strong.

In terms of the reveal of Elsa being in fact in her eighties, well, I didn’t feel it likely that Maggie (who is very independent and intuitive) would actually mistake a woman in her eighties for a young woman. So for me my ‘buy in’ to the novel was lost a bit at this point, but I decided to put that niggle to one side and just continue with the novel (this happens early on). I found Elsa’s story very moving and interesting and enjoyed Maggie’s involvement in trying to be a friend to Elsa and helping her solve the mystery surrounding the time she was pregnant with her first child.

Admittedly I found the book a tad repetitive in parts and in this sense I felt it could maybe have been a little shorter. Overall I enjoyed the style of writing and felt the scenes in the park in particular were very atmospheric. Where I Found You was an enjoyable read; a book I would recommend, particularly if you enjoy quite a moving novel.

Thanks to Harper Fiction for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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1 comment:

Janine said...

It sounds like this book will be really interesting