Elizabeth Buchan is a British writer with 14 books published, category “Women Fiction”. I was curious. Tantalized by a mix of jealousy and admiration for this lucrative woman, I resolved to read her latest book as I also want to keep abreast with what’s new and popular in the fiction world. I got the audio book as I usually do, and at first the only thing that did not stop me from listening was the lack of other books on my iPhone.

The book is all about family: its dramas, day to day life, marital frustrations and loss of a lifetime “sacrificed everything for” job, divorce, child custody, grandparents, old age, children grown up, separation, parents-children dissensions… and I have the feeling the list could go on but I got bored by my own enumeration. It looks as if Elizabeth tried to gather as many family issues as possible under one umbrella. Of course it is possible. And thinking of “Life is tougher than fiction” I’m sure we have all had our shares. I do suspect though that all this agglomeration of characters and problems as well as the minute details and careful descriptions (of little objects even) make the story a bit too plentiful, like a tree that got painted too many leaves and would look better on the canvas if it lost a few.

Elizabeth’s vocabulary is what kept me listening. It is lovely. Hats off to words that I rarely or never heard pronounced, as well as cherished French words that made it into the English language without me even being aware (which is rare).

The story is not to be dismissed either: it is extremely easy for one to relate given the plenitude of choice. Annie is a bit surreal I find. Someone restless like me could get quite annoyed by her patience and sacrifice, label them downright stupid and dismiss all her merits. Situations are resolved beautifully in exchange and the author makes it easy for all possibilities, all could happen and we are to be fine with it, such is life, it could go either way. One might also grasp a reminder of what is actually important, how small things can ripple into avalanches and take lives (metaphorically speaking, there is no actual avalanche); family is essential and so many scars could heal or not even exist if more efforts were made…

It is a book that you would read in front of the fireplace surrounded by yours truly. For me it left a feeling of peace. And even though it is not mind-blowing and it will not keep me awake at night thinking of its plot and implications, even though I now view Elizabeth Buchan as having achieved more on quantity than quality in an attempt to have both, the book is nice.

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