According to the classifications on Anne R Allen’s Blog women’s fiction is different from romantic fiction in that in women’s fiction the girl would rather take a job at an archeological dig in Kyrgyzstan than settle down with the boy next door. Romance on the other hand requires a HEA (= happily ever after) ending, or at least a HFN (= happy for now) ending.
Sandra Danby’s upcoming Ignoring Gravity straddles both I think, though it could also be classified as general fiction. The author contacted me on my blog and sent me the PDF of the book for review, which I read on my IPAD. The book is due to be published in September and is Danby’s first book.
From the very first page this is an intriguing story. Set in London it explores adoption and identity and at the same time weaves in romance and the notion of dishonesty in relationships and trust.
Rose Haldane is a journalist in her thirties, who works for the London Herald. She is single and has had a number of failed relationships, never having met the man of her dreams. Her sister Lily on the other hand is married and although she doesn’t admit it at first, this is not a very happy marriage. She is simply desperate for a baby before it’s too late, however, her husband is less than keen and shows irritation when confronted with charts and Lily’s obsession with healthy eating in order to encourage conception.
Their mother has recently died and together the two sisters tidy up her belongings in their father’s house. They stumble across a set of diaries which will turn their lives upside down, in particular that of Rose who realises that she was adopted and doesn’t really know who she is, even though she imagined that she had characteristics of her grandmother and grandfather. Their father is elusive in his grief at the loss of his wife and it turns out he has additional problems that he’s been trying to hide from the girls.
The adoption theme, interwoven with questions about identity, love and trust form the main story and these themes are very well-developed through strong characterisation of the two sisters and their similarity and dissimilarities. Lily’s back story of an unhappy marriage and break up provides a wonderful twist at the very end of the book that made me go back over the last page to reread and confirm my surprise at the denouement, which I had not expected at all as the author gently nudged the reader to expectations of a very different conclusion.
The book is well written and is a very good read, it is noticeable that Danby has a literary background and is an experienced writer. I very much recommend it for download on an e-reader or for taking with you as a tangible book on the train or tube, or simply to relax on the sofa at the end of a busy day. And after you’ve finished it you will still be thinking about your own identity and what makes you who you are: nature or nurture or a bit of both?
I am not a great fan of romance fiction, as you may have realised from my review history on this blog, however, I could forgive Rose’s obsession with Nick and their developing romance, just about, because the overall story is great and the angle of a woman searching for her identity through research into her family and her determination to improve her professional standing come what may (i.e. she is one of those girls who does want to go to Kyrgyzstan – see genre definition above!) made it easy for me to take the romantic development as part of the story, and of Rose’s identity.