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After receiving my dooyoo £20 amazon voucher I decided that I needed some new books, and this looked like just my kind of thing, and I'd had it on my wishlist for a while but the price had finally decreased now so it seemed a lot more worth it, especially with the voucher!
There are a lot of different bits of the plot all woven together. The book is split into sections which you will realise as you read it. The first section entails what happens when four rich kids are vacationing on a father's private island with their friends and family. Sasha Sinclair, Alex Doyle and Miles and Grace Ashford witness something that will haunt them for the rest of their lives while on Angel Cay, and effect their actions throughout the next 20 years. No longer are they just relaxed teenagers with nothing to worry about. The second part of the book goes through their lives over that time, how the experience affects them. They all end up as household names in glamorous fields such as fashion and music. This is by far the biggest part of the book. The third section answers questions, as they go back to Angel Cay and secrets are uncovered.
I really enjoyed this book, it was just my sort of thing although it did have its weaknesses. At 672 pages its not exactly a short read, and I found it a little hard to get into it at first but after the first 50 or so pages I was really enjoying it and understood it - it was just the first bit when they were on the island that there was a lot of different characters and I was trying and failing to identify the main ones! Putting it into different sections was very good, in the middle of the second section the novel almost changed genres. So much happened away from the island I almost forgot the main focus of the book, and was just getting really interesting in the characters lives. 672 pages, but so much happens in these pages! Its currently on amazon for £3.59.
I'd previously read one of Tasmina Perry's books after borrowing it from the library and enjoyed it so I was keen to order this one from Amazon, especially after seeing a good review of it on DooYoo that whetted my appetite. I've actually had it in my to-read pile for at least a month now and finally got round to reading it this month.
Privileged Miles Ashford is holidaying at his family's luxury estate on the Caribbean island of Angel Cay, along with his sister Grace, girlfriend Sasha and friend Alex (and other friends, but these are the main characters). Each of the teenagers has big plans for the future, but none of them are prepared for the big secret that they'll be burdened with after the events of one dark night. As they go their separate ways and follow their chosen paths, will they keep evading the past? Or will it come back to haunt them later on?
From the beginning, I couldn't take to MILES. His attitude was somewhat snobbish and he came across as though he believed himself to be better than everyone else, especially Alex, who has not been used to the same wealth and status as the Ashfords and who comes from a quite humble background in comparison. There is a real dark side of Miles' character, as is heavily hinted in the opening chapters of the book in a scene with Alex and one of the staff who has been hired by his father to deal with the boats. In the immediate aftermath of the events of that night, he seemed entirely unaffected, which I found disturbing, and which was in strong contrast to the other characters. As times goes on, that initial opinion didn't change much and I still find him a rather odd character and to a large extent, much of his actions are fuelled by a desire to 'blot out' a certain emotion that doesn't sit well with him. Of the main characters, he is the most ruthless and selfish.
GRACE is different to her self-assured brother- mellower and less confident about things. She is the only one of the main characters not to immediately stick to the plans that she made before the holiday, instead choosing to go travelling and forget it ever happened. Her life takes an entirely different turn as a result. The events of that night haunt her and she is less able to forget than some of the other characters.
ALEX is pretty horrified by Miles' attitude that night but he's not about to let events derail his ambitions to become a rock star. It's quite difficult to see why he and Miles ever became friends as their characters are rather different. Alex was a much nicer character in general, despite the industry that he's set his heart on getting into.
SASHA thought she had her life mapped out - she'd marry Miles and become a supermodel on the side - but the events of that night leave her dreams in tatters. It took me a while to warm to her character. In the early chapters, it's made quite clear that she's a bit of a golddigger but I found that rather amusing given my dislike of Miles himself - a perfect match, you might say! Like Miles, my opinion of her in the early chapters didn't waver. I still found her snobbish and unlikeable but I really admired her ambition.
I don't usually lavish much attention on supporting characters but I feel obliged to say a few words about ROBERT ASHFORD, who was another character that I didn't like. As the father of Miles and Grace, he features in the plot but isn't what you would call a prominent character. That said, he features enough for me to decide that I couldn't warm to his snobbish attitude. Miles is rather like him, much more so than Grace, and there were brief (very brief!) moments when I actually felt a bit sorry for Miles in some scenes with his father.
The book is split into several parts and flicks back and forth between past and present, as is typical of the author's books. It opens with a short present-day introduction (set in September 2010), in which Miles is summoned back to the island, along with Grace, Sasha and Alex. This isn't a spoiler as such, as the blurb on the book jacket actually says, "... when the consequences of that fateful night finally catch up with them...".
We are then taken to the summer of 1990, which is when the teenagers were enjoying their post-exams vacation, and this sets the scene for the events of that fateful night. The narrative then moves on a few months to autumn 1990. As planned, the main characters have split up to pursue their plans. The rest of the 'then' narrative moves in a linear fashion through the years 1990-2010 but with some years skipped through. The third part of the book deals with the disturbing revelation that comes to light for one of the characters and has a knock-on effect on all of them.
In general, each chapter is dedicated to a specific character, although there are times when several characters will be covered in the same chapter. For the most part, each new chapter flicks to a different character but there are some times when several chapters in a row are given over to the same character. This level of detail is ideal for getting a pretty in-depth snapshot of each character at that moment in time but things aren't entirely equal as some characters get more coverage than others (Miles and Sasha seemed to crop up more regularly than Grace and Alex, definitely in the early years).
I really enjoyed this book. I was intrigued from the start given that the prologue chapter is sent in 2010, which quickly turns out to be a full 10 years since the main characters had been holidaying in Angel Cay, which immediately got me wondering why a whole decade would pass before the you-know-what might hit the fan. After all, you tend to assume that if something has gone undiscovered for that long, it won't come out! The middle part of the book had me hooked as I found it really interested to see how their lives panned out after the holiday but always in the back of mind was the niggling questions: what comes to light? And how do we get from this to the prologue chapter?
Another point that I really liked was the attention to detail with the locations. Through the various characters, the narrative moves to places like Australia and Thailand as well as the obvious in Angel Cay, and it really feels like you're with them in these places as the author brings them alive in her writing.
Absolutely! Although my main reading habits revolve around light and fluffy chick lit books, every so often I like to delve into something a bit deeper and more thought-provoking so you'll often see books like this mixed in to my reading pile. As is quite typical of Tasmina Perry's work, there is a twist towards the end. I have to say that I really did not suspect this particular twist and of all the possible scenarios that had entered my mind, this definitely wasn't one of them.
Alex Doyle, Miles and Grace Ashford and Sasha Sinclair are toasting the end of their exams with a decadent vacation on the private island of Angel Cay. The whole world is at their feet when a horrible tragedy threatens to ruins their lives. Kiss Heaven Goodbye explores the repercussions of that fateful night as the four go on to glittering careers - will their dark secret ever come to light?
Kiss Heaven Goodbye is the perfect beach read - five hundred odd pages whip past before you know it as you're sucked into the lives of the four privileged students and watch how they become successful. Perry uses an excellent format - showing us first that twenty years down the line the secret is about to be uncovered, then taking us back to that night and introducing us to Miles, Grace, Sasha and Alex. The rest of the book uses dates as chapter headings to show time unfolding, which meant reading compulsively in the knowledge that, however right their lives might be, everything is about to come crashing down.
My main complaint with this manner of dipping in and out of the characters' lives over twenty years is that often key events would be skipped over and we'd simply be shown the aftermath. I think at times Perry used this technique almost lazily so that she wouldn't have to write difficult scenes - much easier to show a fait accompli.
I also found it far too cutesy that in the book a film being premiered was called "By Midnight", the novel that Perry has released under the nom de plume Mia James. We also visited Highgate Cemetary in this novel, which features prominantly in By Midnight. To most of Perry's regular readers, this won't have any impact at all so it is far from a negative point but it jumped out at me.
Kiss Heaven Goodbye is as predictable as you would expect, although Perry threw up a successful curveball at the end which, I have to confess, I didn't see coming and that I enjoyed immensely. It's always nice to be surprised by this sort of novel!
All in all, Kiss Heaven Goodbye was a blistering read - fast, sexy and glamourous with larger than life characters. If you're heading on holiday, you can't go far wrong packing this novel. Perry knows how to write the perfect beach read.
This review has been posted to Floor to Ceiling Books
Miles and Grace Ashford, Sasha Sinclair and Alex Doyle were carefree teenagers when they holidayed at age 18 on the private island of Angel Cay. But when a shocking incident happens that leaves the four young people harbouring a secret between themselves, what repercussions is it going to have on them? When the four grow up in adults and begin in the world of work, is the dark secret going to affect their choices forever more? How will affect Sasha in her determination to be a successful model, and will it affect Alex's chances of being a global musician? How about money-driven Miles and his shy sister Grace? Will the consequences of that one secret night on Angel Cay ruin the rest of their lives? And just what price will the four have to pay?
Someone I have never yet managed to pick up a copy of any of Tasmina Perry's 5 novels, even though they actually look like the sort of thing I really enjoy to read - a proper blockbuster type novel. I really can't pinpoint why this is so when I was offered the chance to review her latest book, Kiss Heaven Goodbye, I jumped at the chance. The gorgeous cover screamed summer at me, and I was really excited to get stuck in and find out whether it would live up to my expectations. It's a huge chunk of a hardback book at well over 500 pages, but rest assured, it's definitely one you're going to want to make room in your suitcase for.
The book begins in the present day, introducing us to the rich and powerful Miles Ashford finding himself in trouble after many years over something that happened with his school friends. He brings up their names and then the book flies straight back to the 1980′s when Miles, Grace, Alex and Sasha were all 18 year olds and eager to go off to University after one last special holiday to the private island of Angel Cay. I didn't expect this jump back nearly 30 years, so it was an intriguing way to start the book and I have to admit it really grabbed my attention right away.
In fact, the book doesn't come back to 2010 until right at the end, and instead goes through the lives of Miles, Grace, Alex and Sasha as they grow up, and find out how the secret of Angel Cay affects all four of them. The book skips between just months, sometimes a year or two before it picks up again but I really loved this because I didn't know what was going to be introduced at the start of each chapter when a new time period was introduced. The book chops and changes between the characters, but Perry is careful to keep all of the characters in the loop, even if it's a mention from the other characters which is really interesting.
I really loved the way it was written, the flashbacks were fun because the reader is kept the dark for 95% of the book as to what happened at Angel Cay and I liked the mystery element of it. The characters were all really well written as well, with 2 clear likeable ones (Alex and Grace) and 2 despicable ones (Miles and Sasha). They all exist in their own worlds in the book yet Perry finds ways to keep them in touch with each other and I loved how the characters were all linked like this. I really loathed Miles but at the same time, he was brilliant for the book and his storylines were fun to read! Sasha is completely ruthless, but I found her growing on me as the time went on. Grace was lovely, probably the most realistic character of the bunch, and her friendship with rockstar Alex was touchingly written, and very different to the brashness of the rest of the book.
The setting of the book moves around a bit too. It starts on the paradise island of Angel Cay, which I imagine looks something like the gorgeous cover of this book, moves back to England where the characters initially start living, then separates to Spain, America, and several other places along the way too. I would love to know if Perry was lucky enough to visit all these places as she describes them so well, I especially loved her descriptions of Spain with Grace, I was able to imagine the places so well.
If you can't tell already, I think this is a super summer read and would most definitely recommend it to fans of chick lit! After reading this book, I really don't know why I haven't read anything by Tasmina Perry before because she writes fantastic blockbusters which are extremely readable, with great characters and fantastic locations too. The beautiful cover will certainly attract attention, and don't let the size of the book put you off because it is fast-paced and keeps your attention for every single page. I loved how it kept my interest, the mystery element was quite exciting and the characters were brilliant enough to keep the story moving and the reader into the book. Definitely recommended!
ISBN: 978-0755358403. Published by Headline Review in August 2010. Pages: 576. RRP: £12.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.