If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?
Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.
When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.
Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?
Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?
Perfect for fans of One Day, The Versions of Us and Miss You.
Published by HQ 4th May 2017 (UK)
I’m sure we all do it, think about the “what ifs” in life. What if I’d done this instead of that? What if I’d went here instead of there? In The Other Us, Maggie gets to explore those questions and finds the what ifs may not exactly turn out to be what she wanted them to be after all.
The book starts with Forty something Maggie receiving an invitation for a school reunion. Maggie is at a point in her life where she’s reevaluating her life and I suppose, purpose. Her daughter is spreading her wings and leaving her parents behind, her marriage to Dan straight from Uni has grown stale and resentful and the part-time job she has is unfulfilling. She feels frumpy, undervalued and regretful at the lost opportunities to forge a career while devoting herself to motherhood. I related with Maggie here quite a lot. I’m turning 40 soon, my kids are older and need me less and less and I’ve had a feeling of not knowing what to do with myself, of having to put aside one part of my life and throw myself into something else, like redefining myself almost. I understood how she felt.
When Maggie hears that her ex Jude is going to be there, she can’t help wondering what if? Because the night Dan proposed to her, Jude had asked Maggie not to go through with it. To go away with him. When Maggie wakes up then and realises she’s somehow slipped back in time to that pivotal moment, she realises this time she can make a different choice. But before Maggie can get settled into her new life, she finds herself on a constant journey where she wakes to find herself in different versions of her life – with Dan and with Jude. What Maggie needs to work out is which life does she really actually want.
I loved the questions thrown up by this book. Is the grass always greener for example, and does taking a different path always lead to same point – after all you can’t run from yourself and who you are. I thought it was interesting how Maggie’s journey lead her to realise the influence she’d had over her own life and relationships without realising, and allowed her to start making small changes that would affect everyone.
With short chapters and Maggie flitting through time and different lives, this is a really fast read and one I felt engaged with throughout. At times it moves almost too fast, and I felt I too was hurtling along and wanted things to slow down. I really liked how the book made Maggie look at how she acted and behaved had influenced the relationship she had with Dan, small things which with subtle changes can have overwhelming consequences and results. I could also see why she’d be attracted to the life she has with Jude, successful and wealthy which allows her to forge the creative career she longed for. I did find it difficult to believe Maggie would be prepared to accept her strange, time traveling situation as easily as she did, and especially thought her daughter played a very insignificant role that didn’t quite ring true and meant I lacked an emotional connection with Maggie.
I enjoyed reading The Other Us. It’s quite light-hearted and would be ideal holiday reading. It poses some interesting questions without getting too deep and is something a little bit different. Fiona Harper’s writing is very readable, and her character’s are mostly relatable. By the end I was willing Maggie to make the right choice, whether she does or not I’ll leave for you to discover. If you want something light, a little bit different and easy to get engrossed in, and if you’re prepared to suspend belief a little, then I’d recommend The Other Us to you.
(I read an advanced copy courtesy of the publisher)