Abbie Greaves (no relation that I know of) hasn’t shied away from the hard stuff in her second novel, which is a beautifully written story about love and loss.
It touches on many tough issues that could be a trigger for some people (alcoholism, mental health and suicide) with sensitivity but while the book clearly has dark moments, they are expertly balanced in a tale that even made me chuckle in places.
Here’s the blurb:
Some love stories change us for ever.
For the last seven years, Mary O’Connor has waited for her first love. Every evening she arrives at Ealing Broadway station and stands with a sign which simply says: ‘Come Home Jim’.
Commuters might pass her by without a second thought, but Mary isn’t going anywhere. Until an unexpected call turns her world on its head.
It will take the help of a young journalist called Alice, and a journey across the country for Mary to face what happened all those years ago, and to finally answer the question: where on earth is Jim?
Before I carry on, I just want to say something about the cover. I debated including this bit, as it’s nothing to do with the writing, but I’ve thought about it for a while and it still feels important, so…
According to approximately a million experts on the internet: “Your cover only has around 3 seconds to catch a browsing reader’s attention.”
When I saw The Ends of the Earth on the library display shelf, it certainly grabbed my attention. It screamed ‘rom com’ with its multiple colours and graphic-style people. I’m not dissing it, I really like the cover and, if you look at my archives, you’ll know I love a good rom com, but in this case I feel like it misrepresents the book – and that’s unfortunate.
Yes, from reading the blurb, you get an idea that this is perhaps not going to be the jovial travel adventure the cover might suggest but, even so, I fear people have gone/will go into this story expecting it to be something it’s not.
Here ends the mini-rant.
Anyway, back to the book. The story switches backwards and forwards in time and focuses on either Mary or Alice, which works really well. Sometimes I feel jumps interrupt the story in a frustrating way but in this case it is necessary to help the mystery of Jim gradually unfold.
I’d really love to interview the author about Mary. She’s…sparse but complex. Maybe slightly cold but, at the same time, there’s something about her (or maybe her circumstance) that makes the reader warm to her. Alice seems like her opposite to start with but, without giving away any secrets, they have more in common than they know.
This was definitely one of those powerful books where I needed a couple of days to sit and think about it before I picked up anything new to read.
Thanks to Norfolk Library Service for the loan of the book.
My rating: Four stars.