THE STORY OF OUR LIVES
by Helen Warner
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Graydon House (February 6, 2018)
They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.
Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.
Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiraling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?
Anton was her tutor and over the course of her first year, Emily had grown increasingly attracted to him. In his late thirties, he was tall, tanned, blond and devastatingly charming. He was also devastatingly married with two young children.
Melissa’s love life was non-existent. Well, that wasn’t strictly true. Melissa’s sex life was excellent. It was just that there wasn’t much love involved in any of her liaisons…
She had so much to apologize for that if she started now, until the end of her life it wouldn’t be enough.
Can’t you hunt for Mr Right while still enjoying the company of Mr Wrong?
I was immediately captivated by the vividly descriptive writing style and fell headlong into the engaging and original story of four uniquely compelling women who had met and bonded as teens while living in close quarters during their first year of college. The four had retained a special and supportive bond for over twenty years while enduring harrowing events, spats, betrayals, addictions, illnesses, abuse, pregnancies, child rearing, love affairs, professional gains, and tragic loss. They thought they knew each other inside out although each had at least one long-held secret, indiscretion, or shameful transgression that remained unknown to the others.
While their tale would have been fodder for Jerry Springer or a daytime soap if handled differently, Ms. Warner kept it classy and infinitely intriguing. The storylines were original, relevant, frightfully realistic, and unpredictable while the writing was keenly honed, hypnotically engrossing, and hit all the feels. I adored most of the characters with my favorite being the steadfast and gallant Steve, although the four women were devastatingly infuriating as well as fascinating, insightful, stubborn, and exasperating. At times they were disappointingly weak and repellent then, thankfully later they were allowed to be surprisingly strong.
Despite their occasional periods of envy and annoyances, they remained unquestionably loyal to each other through it all. At various times I had been disappointed with each to the point of gnashing my teeth, although I was more than pleased with their personal development and emotional maturity by the deeply satisfying conclusion. And as a bonus – I learned a new phrase to add to my ever expanding Brit Word list, “knees up,” which Mr. Google told me was a noun meaning a lively party. Which is something we should have at every opportunity.
About Helen Warner
Helen Warner is head of daytime for Channel 4, where she is responsible for shows such as Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. Previously she worked for ITV where she launched the daytime talk show Loose Women and was editor of This Morning. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and their two children.