Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, thirty-one year old translator who works from home in her one bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a very long time ago, when she was fifteen years old and tragedy struck her family. Her grief has left her scared of commitment and completely risk averse, so she plays it safe and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.
One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a random passer-by, Ben, luckily happens to spot and rescue her. Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event? (From Goodreads.com)
Published 23rd March 2017 by Simon and Schuster UK
Wow. If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be emotional. But one word is not enough, so here follows what is likely to be a slightly (very) gushing review.
Sophie Winter keeps herself to herself. She works at home and spends most of her evenings at home. She really didn’t want to go to the Halloween party in the flat below her, but when best friend Julia convinces her that she should at least try to socialise, she gives it a go. For half an hour. Then she’s back in her flat, in her comfy PJ’s and dozing on the sofa with her beloved cat, Fred. Sophie is already my kind of person. I’d related to and connected with her within the first few pages. There’s a sense of vulnerability, insecurity, grief and loneliness combined with hints of a hidden strength and kind heart that make her endearing, interesting and gets the reader onside immediately.
When she’s woken that same night by the fire raging in the flat below, I was transfixed. I felt her panic, smelt the smoke and saw the terrifying scene unfold in breathtaking clarity. I was then swept away on the developing relationship between Sophie and Ben- a complex, tentative, and extremely romantic journey with some unexpected twists and turns, which both binds and complicates things for them. I’m not a huge believer in fate, but there’s a tangible feeling that this was meant to be. Both Sophie and Ben are carrying the weight of guilt and the effects of grief and trauma. Finding each other becomes the key to letting go, righting wrongs and moving forward.
There’s something very real and personal about Dani Atkin’s writing and it is utterly compelling. I was immersed in these characters lives as I read this book, almost as if I knew them. I remained hooked throughout this absorbing story of coming to terms with grief and loss, facing your fears and being able to open your heart again, even if you know that means your heart will eventually be broken. I cried. I smiled. The end of this book absolutely broke me. But it was beautiful and heartwarming too. I can’t recommend it enough.
(I read a proof copy supplied by the publisher)