Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been friends forever. But the problem with your oldest friends is that they always know your darkest secrets. A powerful, moving, unputdownable novel following twenty years of friendship, and one unforgettable lie, The Story of Our Lives is a treat for fans of The Versions of Us and One Day
Stories about groups of friends always appeal to me. There’s just something so familiar and comforting about sinking into a book with a cast of characters you can either relate to personally or identify personality traits against your own peers. The Story Of Our Lives is one of those books, as over a period of twenty years the lives and dynamics of a group of four, who meet at university and stay in touch through annual weekends away is explored through the ups and downs of life.
I really loved the individual characterisation of Sophie, Melissa, Emily and Amy. Four very different women who bond while young, it was fascinating to see the different paths they all took through their lives. The book is told in yearly sections, centred around their annual get together. At first I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, each section seeming too brief to be able to really get to know and connect with each of the four women or deal with any of the issues raised in their lives in any great depth. Yet surprisingly it worked very well indeed. The author managed to tackle several serious issues as the friends grow and evolve over the years and I almost felt like I too was involved in the catch up, celebrating highs and empathising with the lows. Being a similar age to the characters, this could almost have been my own group of friends, with life events and hurdles that we’ve also experienced over the last couple of decades, as the dynamics of our relationships evolve and change.
What I especially loved about the book was that each section or get together was headed by a newspaper headline of a notable event from that particular year, starting with the death of Princess Diana right through to the 2012 London Olympics. These headlines were like a nostalgic trip down my own memory lane, as I placed myself at each year and thought about what was going on in my own life back then. I was surprised just how vividly I was able to pinpoint and remember from these clever little prompts, and again made me feel really involved in the story.
The Story Of Our Lives is a unique book – I can’t think of another that tells a story over decades in this way. I absolutely loved it though and found myself racing through the constantly changing and evolving story. There’s a mild element of mystery, although I think it’s fair to say most readers will work out what the secret is well before it’s revealed. However, it doesn’t matter as this book is about the bond and support between friends, and how we face the ups and downs of life as we grow and gain responsibilities. I’m kind of going to miss catching up with characters who now seem like old friends of my own. An easy but satisfying read, this would be perfect for holidays – I’ll be recommending this one lots this year I think!