Chicklit Club
 

TRACY BUCHANAN

 

My Sister's Secret (2015)

 

Since her parents died when she was seven, Willow North has had little to hold on to but the memories. However, as she begins to explore the past further, she finds that even those memories may not be quite accurate. What emerges is a story of three sisters - Charity, Faith and Hope - their childhood friend, Niall Lane, and the enigmatic and successful businessman, Dan North, who links them all. This is one of those books that immediately drew me in and I devoured it in no time, enjoying every minute yet simultaneously wanting to read it as fast I could to discover the secrets but not wanting it to end. It fits in with current trends towards darker, mystery-laden, family psychological dramas, yet whilst it's quite easy for these stories to become quite samey, everything about this book - the settings, storylines, revelation and finale - is different and original. The book uses submerged forests as part of its narrative, and it's a really refreshing and fitting image - beautiful and haunting and also interesting and eye-opening. The story moves along at a pace and the twists and turns are largely unexpected, the final revelation in particular I didn't see coming and it throws the whole story and the characters on their heads. There were a couple of instances that felt too coincidental and I would have liked a fuller second half to the story. Similarly, I wasn't entirely satisfied that the book gives closure, especially for the characters left behind, but in the scheme of things this felt much more authentic than having things neatly wrapped up. However, this is a hugely engaging book, with some really accomplished storytelling, and is a breath of fresh air. With her tragic and bittersweet story, Buchanan really knows how to write compelling and intelligent women's fiction and I'll be eagerly awaiting her next book now. (JC)


 

The Atlas of Us (2014)

 

Louise flies to Thailand to find her mother a few days after a devastating tsunami hit the island.  Thailand is a mess of death and despair and with the help of the son of one of her mother’s friends, she comes across a bag with a sort of journal/atlas of a writer named Claire Shreve.  She never remembers her mother mentioning the name and is baffled as to how the atlas came to be in her mother’s bag and where is her mother now?  As the search continues, Louise - with the help of the atlas - pieces together the story of Claire and her love of the man whom she loved beyond reason and discovers why her mother came to be in Thailand on that fateful day.  This was one of the most tragic stories I’ve ever read, I was haunted by the images of the wreckage left in the wake of the tsunami and the lives ruined in that one tragic moment. The love affair between Claire and Milo was very parallel to the tragedy that love could sometimes bring to our lives and the rebuilding that must take place as life must go on.  Absolutely recommend. (KARM)

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