Thursday, 2 July 2015

One Step Too Far - Book Review

One Step Too Far - Tina Seskis
My rating: 4 of 5

An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again? Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family - especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

This is a clever book and right until the final stages we're led to believe that the storyline comes from a particular angle when in fact it is completely turned around. Dropped in, almost as an aside in the final chapters, the reader realises a vital piece of Emily’s history has been totally omitted which throws an entirely new light on the circumstances (trying to avoid spoilers here!) - a very neat twist indeed.

I was gripped at the opening. There is a shocking moment when Emily, in the course of abandoning her past, leaves her wedding ring at the station: He doesn't love me anymore. So I leave it there, by the soap, in the public toilet next to Platform 2, and take the next train to Euston. It begs the question: What has been so devastating to make this woman walk away from her marriage and young son?

The bulk of the story is about Cat (formerly Emily) as she forges a new start for herself that is diametrically opposed to her former existence. From a safe, settled marriage she moves to London, to a shared house that resembles a squat where she starts a new menial job, frequents bars and is tempted by drugs and shoplifting. It raises plenty of interesting issues: how possible is it to wipe out one's past and start again? How hard is it to reinvent oneself? There are also themes of betrayal, blame, forgiveness and what it takes to truly 'move on'.

After the big reveal, the ending seemed to be trying too hard - there are a number of similar 'hoodwinking techniques' as add-ons; tricks which lead the reader to think one thing, then quickly shift us towards a different outcome - and it's just too many. That one earthquake about Emily's past is enough! Adding further tremors has little impact and feels like the author is pushing the technique too far for me.

A thought-provoking book narrated by a number of key characters from different perspectives.

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AJ Waines is the author of: The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train.
Her new novel DARK PLACE TO HIDE is out, 30th July.

  •  Both books went to Number One in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.
  •  Girl on a Train also became a Number One Bestseller in the entire Kindle Chart in Australia (2015)
  •  Awarded Amazon KDP All-Star Bonus for being a Top 100 most-read Author in UK (2015)

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