*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, Harper Collins UK and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely.
But everyone deserves a second chance…
Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.
Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.
Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new.
Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?
Saving Missy begins with aching, desolate loneliness, which a reader cannot help but feel is at least partially self-inflicted, as prickly, unhappy Missy trudges painfully through her small and isolated life actively repelling any humans who attempt to reach out to her.
Slowly, slowly, as Missy’s neighbours persist in their overtures and her prickly exterior begins to slowly unfurl, the tone changes. The story becomes warmer and more hopeful, and Missy’s character opens up and blooms into a fully-realised, individual – braver, bolder, still flawed, but willing to connect again, open her heart to others again.
There are mysteries that are deliberately withheld from the reader and teased out through flashbacks, hints and reminiscences as Missy takes us back and forth between her younger years and current older age. What did she say to her daughter that was so unforgivable? What is the dark secret from her youth? These (and more) are built up gradually, layer-on-layer, then sprung on the reader like the drop at the top of a rollercoaster.
Most of the excitement and suspense here lies not in the action – the story chronicles a relatively uneventful year in the life of one “old lady”. The investment is in the characters: how they develop, how they relate to each other and their interactions, big and small. Sylvie, Angela and Otis, and Bobby and the other side characters are all wonderfully realised, believable and engaging, and I came to care about every one of them by the end of the book.
This is a heartbreakingly sad story about human isolation and loneliness, guilt and bereavement, but it is also a heartwarmingly touching story about kindness, forgiveness and second chances at life. Definitely recommended for anyone looking for an entertaining, emotional read.
The magic doesn’t stop the worst happening. The worst happens all the time, every day. And then life goes on. And you just hang on and hope that you can keep whatever crumbs and tiny white teeth are left.
– Beth Morrey, Saving Missy
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Saving Missy is available on Amazon (and other bookshops) right now!