Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Review: The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

Think of your closest friends. Now imagine that you are lucky enough to have a girls weekend with them every year. If you live close to each other and see each other constantly, the weekend is generally a happy escape from the pressures and duties of daily life. On the other hand, if you don't often see these friends, the weekend offers a wonderful chance to reconnect and to catch up in a relaxed atmosphere. Now imagine doing this annually for fifteen years. How many life changes and challenges, good and bad, will come up over such a long span of time? These imaginings are exactly what Helen Warner's novel, The Story of Our Lives, offers to readers.

Sophie, Melissa, Amy, and Emily have been friends since living together their first year of university. Now they are launched in the real world but they make it a point to get together every year for a long weekend. The women are very different personalities and lead very different lives but they retain a strong and caring bond with each other, despite the inevitable secrets, large and small, they each carry. As their lives unscroll through the novel, the women will face many different issues: love and sex, infidelity, marriage, motherhood, postpartum depression, domestic abuse, drug addiction, miscarriage, and life-threatening illness among others. They face these issues both alone and collectively, as the friends rally around each other and offer each other some hard truths. But even amongst this close knit group, there is at least one explosive, potentially life and group altering secret.

The novel spans fifteen years in the friends' lives. Each section starts with a major true news event from the year (1997 through 2012) to ground the following short chapters in that time. Each section takes place during that year's girls weekend, where the friends will come together to confront the biggest issue of one of their lives to date. Because of this, the first chapter of every year starts with the women arriving for the weekend but quickly segues into flashbacks of the previous year giving added background to the important issue. This narrative structure took a bit of getting used to in the beginning but because of its consistency throughout the novel, eventually it became unobtrusive. The four women are all main characters but despite the third person omniscient narration, Sophie is more rounded out than the others and is just slightly more of the focus, the glue that holds the women together. There is not a strong through plot here for much of the book; the novel is episodic in feel with quick snapshots of the incidents in their lives so it is no surprise to discover Warner works in television and the book itself feels as if it would easily translate to the small screen. The description of each vacation rental and the women's arrivals each year might seem slightly repetitious but the progression of size and luxury in the homes they rent reflects the superficial progression in their lives as well. It is, of course, only after they settle in that they can confront the harder work of friendship, what it can support, what it can endure, and what it celebrates. The novel is generally breezy despite the myriad of heavy topics and it's a fast and easy read. Those who enjoy drama, soap operas, and escapist fiction will enjoy this for sure.

There is a tour wide Rafflecopter giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card so be sure to enter!

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For more information about Helen Warner and the book, check out her website or friend her on Goodreads. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and Graydon House for sending me the book to review.

1 comment:

I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

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