I always make a point of checking out books from Richard and Judy’s book club, so when I saw the newest selection in Smiths recently I had a quick browse. Yesterday’s Sun by Amanda Brookes caught my eye because of the pretty cover and the recommendation on the front from author Katie FForde claiming it ‘Magical and Unputdownable’. When I read the synopsis describing the story of a woman offered a glimpse into her future by a mysterious Moondial I was sold.
Holly and Tom have just moved into their dream home and are about to embark on a new five year plan. For Tom this involves a family, but after a childhood of neglect and bitterness Holly isn’t so sure. When she comes across a box containing a glass orb and strange mechanical objects during the renovations, Holly doesn’t know what to make of them. Until it becomes clear that they belong to the stone sculpture Tom unearthed and plans on using as the centerpiece of their large gardens in the belief it’s a sundial. But when elderly neighbour Jocelyn tells Holly it’s actually a moondial, Holly is intrigued. One night when the moon is at it’s fullest Holly feels an irrisistable draw to the moondial and places the glass orb into the mechanical contraption she painstakingly put together. She isn’t prepared for what happens next. For Holly is offered a glimpse into her future. One which includes a beautiful baby daughter and for the first time Holly feels the stirrings of maternal instinct. But something is wrong with the picture of the future. It doesn’t include her at all. Holly must work out if she can change her destiny, or will it become a choice of Holly’s life for her daughter’s?
I love time travel stories. I love real life settings with a magical twist. I thought I was onto a winner with this one, it contained both elements and sounded incredibly emotional too. Unfortunatly this one fell short and left me disappointed.
I encounted problems very early on in the book. Amanda Brookes writing is very readable, but personally I didn’t find it at all convincing. Holly and Tom are in their early thirties, yet I’ve never met anyone of this age who talks the way they do. They just weren’t believable at all. Secondly, it’s a bit of cliche overload to the point of being cringeworthy at times. Finally it’s so sickly sweet, the scenes between Tom and Holly left me wanting to gag. If the writing wasn’t so easy going I would have given up very early on. Besides, I really wanted to know what the deal with the moondial was.
I actually thought the premise was a really good one. Imagine being offered a glimpse into a future which didn’t include you and the only way to save yourself was to sacrifice someone else? The workings and history of the moondial are what kept me going and were at times fascinating. But as Holly wasn’t interested in having children in the first place I wondered what message Amanda Brookes was sending out here. Tom is very persuasive and pressurising towards Holly in the early pages regarding her having children and Holly’s emotional attachment to the child she glimpses in the future is immediate. Is she saying that a womans role is purely motherhood? I’m not sure. I didn’t get it.
Maybe the book lacked a little emotional involvement for me. It’s written in a third person narraitive from Holly and tells rather than shows Holly’s turmoil. Again I thought the over sentimentalaity and outdated character speach distanced me. It felt like I was supposed to find this story heartrendingly sad but the truth is I didn’t. And I’m the biggest wuss going and cry at anything usually. I also saw the plot twist coming about 100 pages before it happened, convinced myself it couldn’t be that obvious and read on to find it actually was.
I did like the wise old neighbour Jocelyn however. She’s a figure of strength and the little glimpses into her story were fascinating. In fact, this is whose story I wanted to hear full stop. Everyone else were charicatures, and old fashioned ones at that and I didn’t like any of them. The other plus is that this is a pretty short book. It’s only just over 300 pages and an easy quick read to pass a couple of hours. Overall though this book wasn’t for me. Too syruppy, no emotional connection and the story was the wrong one, from the wrong person.
Published by Harper (Uk) January 2012