on Aug. 13, 2012 :
As an author myself (The Four Treasures of Eirean), I know how hard it is to create characters with real depth, characters with whom you empathise and root for, characters who become as real and dear to you as your best friends. In ‘Never Too Late’, author Jay Howard has achieved this effortlessly, creating a whole community of engaging, authentic personalities, all with their hidden skeletons and secret motivations.
Maggie McTavish is the main protagonist around which this community revolves. There will not be many women who fail to identify with some aspect of Maggie’s character. On the surface, she appears to have it all; the big fancy house, handsome successful husband, beautiful accomplished children, and limitless disposable income. But inevitably, not all is as it seems.
Marrying young, and devoting her life to raising her children, Maggie one day realises that life has somehow passed her by. Her children, James and Chloe, have grown and flown the nest. Her faithless workaholic husband, Iain, is hardly ever home, and somewhere along the way she has lost herself too. With no career to fall back on, no family around to support her, the future stretches long and lonely ahead of her.
However, she is galvanised into action when Iain is seriously injured in a car crash. Suddenly, she finds herself running her husband’s business. She discovers shocking secrets and betrayal, whilst dealing with various family crises and nursing her invalid husband back to health. After living such a sheltered life as a pampered housewife, and with her marriage teetering, how will she cope?
The strength of this story lies within its many characters and layers. It is a story of friendship, love, passion, human weakness, and compassion, a story which could be playing itself out in any community around us right now.
Its only drawback (if it can be considered a drawback!) comes right at the beginning, in that we are introduced to all of the characters in fairly quick succession during the very first chapter. This slows the pace a little, as one comes to terms with all the names and personal histories. However, such is the author’s skill, that we are soon drawn into their lives regardless.
This is a lovely account of family saga, village life and community, which I would recommend to anyone. The author is knowledgeable and writes well. I look forward to reading more in the future from this author.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Aug. 1, 2012 :
I enjoyed this book and have recommended my wife to read it because it reminded me so much of The Archers, which she used to enjoy on the radio before it turned into East Enders.
Maggie McTavish is the rock round which her family swirls, and who is a mainstay of the village. And yet so many of them do not realise it. When she realises how some of them, especially her husband, are letting her down, she becomes a little more assertive. And suddenly they realise just what a treasure they have among them. Fortunately there are people like Maggie around to maintain our faith in human nature.
There were so many characters I was losing track of some of them a bit - I don't know how Jay Howard kept them all in line.
An excellent first novel. I look forward to the sequel.
And yes, my wife has just started to read the book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)