Author: Jan Ruth
Published: November 2013 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Category: Contemporary Fiction
A dramatic story of forgiveness, family and friendship; set in the Welsh Mountains of Snowdonia.
My thanks to Jan Ruth for sending me a copy
Daniel and Tina decide to cement their on-off relationship of twenty-five years with a marriage ceremony in the town they grew up in, near Snowdonia in North Wales. They start their married life living in the hotel Daniel is renovating but things between the newly weds begin to crumble after just a few months. Tina is keeping an overwhelming secret and doing her best to deal with it in the only way she feels she can. By pushing Daniel away, partly to prove she can cope on her own because she never has had to. Daniel has always been there for her.
Their old school friends, who haven’t seen each other for years, Victoria and Linda and their respective husbands, Max and Mike, are drawn into the resulting fall out which will affect not only those involved but their families as well.
Linda and Victoria are experiencing their own marital problems and all three couples find themselves in difficult circumstances and with friendships at breaking point. Their lives can never again be the same and each of them will face a future they couldn’t have imagined. The terrible culmination of Victoria and Max’s relationship breakdown is horrifying and dramatic, resulting in destruction and death which devastates everyone in the community.
Outwardly, everything in Victoria’s life was pretty good, but her comfortable life was flawed, so flawed. She stole a quick sideways look at Linda and felt nostalgic for something she’d lost along the way, something honest and ordinary. And it made no sense that Linda actually only lived a couple of miles away, and yet only a wave across the supermarket car park had passed between them for years, separated by their social strata. Did that make her a snob like her mother? Is that how people saw her?
The dynamics between the couples and their interwoven stories are written so well it’s impossible not to have a vivid picture of them, and be drawn in as they are ever more deeply involved in the developing story. Jan Ruth just seems to be able to get right inside the characters and make them totally real and believable, with well-developed and credible personalities. Their problems and emotions are handled sensitively and with honesty during the major life changes that affect them all. Serious issues, including spousal abuse and debilitating illness, are dealt with tactfully.
A really good mix of characters, Daniel stood out for me and Victoria, who was the most damaged by her awful experiences. Great writing and precise attention to details – such an enjoyable read. The scenic descriptions are beautiful and bring the area to life adding an extra element to the story. Mainly, though, this is about how the strength of love and forgiveness, having friends and family win out in the end.