I have only ever read good books by Sophie King so was excited to read another by her. Anyone who has read anything by King will know that she writes with a lot of different characters who all intermingle during the book, and usually their lives have a purpose for crossing due to the plot ending.
Second Time Lucky is no exception with the amount of characters we meet along the way. The setting for this novel is an old estate house known as Bridgewater House that has since been converted into apartments. Each character has their own reasons for living in these apartments and each one has a very different story to tell.
** Marcie is American and has married David who has two teenage children by a first marriage. Marcie and David are desperate to have children of their own but it doesn't seem to be happening. Marcie comes across as uptight and slightly snobby.
** Louise is a newly single parent, finding herself at Bridgewater House after her own home has to be sold. She has three teenage children and a dog, all of whom she finds difficult to manage on her newly appointed finances and fear of living alone.
** Roddy is a recovering alcoholic who used to live at Bridgewater House before it was converted. His newly appointed step father sold the house when his father died. Roddy has two children whom he isn't allowed to see due to his past problems.
** Mollie is a retired well known actress who has just lost her actor husband to cancer. She believes her husband is still with her in spirit and talks to him frequently.
There are spatterings of other characters included in the book, and they all have a purpose of being there. The above four characters are who I class as the main characters and we learn a lot about them as the book progresses.
The whole of the book takes place over a few weeks and during that time an active residents association and a massive amount of joy, turmoil, sadness, intrigue and terror will happen in each of their lives.
I thought there was a lot going on in the whole novel, and King did like to switch characters a fair amount, but despite all this the reading was easy to keep up with and I never lost track of who was doing what, and what character was linked with which.
There were a fair amount of twists and turns in the book, some I saw happening and a few I didn't. All of the major twists that happened at the end however I did see coming. I find this with chick lit in particular, the more I read the easier it is to see through certain possibilities and events.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and I found myself finding excuses to go and read a couple of chapters. So much so I had read the book in two days, which is unusual for me due to lack of time most days.
Sophie King has a style of writing that you don't find in many other authors, in the way that she manages to drag you into their lives and you will find out more about the characters that you could ever expect to learn, especially as there are more than just a couple of main characters.
My only criticism of this book is that I felt the ending was slightly hurriedly put together and it ended slightly abruptly leaving me with a couple of questions I would like to have had answered.
Price: £6.99 (Amazon)
I seem to be getting through a lot of books at the moment, so when my mum sent me a few new ones to read that she had enjoyed, I grabbed this one from the top of the pile, knowing I would enjoy it. I have read a previous novel by Sophie King and loved it, so I felt quite sure I would very much enjoy this one too.
The story follows the lives of the residents of Bridgewater House, an old mansion which has been converted by developers into smaller individual flats. It begins by telling us the story of Louise, who is moving out of her family home with her 3 children Nick, Tim and Justine after her marriage has fallen apart. She is moving into Bridgewater House, and her children are not necessarily pleased about it.
We quickly meet another resident of Bridgewater House, Mollie DeMay, a famous elderly actress who has been recently widowed. She still sees her husband in her head, much to the annoyance and worry of her son Nigel. Marcie, another home-owner, is a young American woman desperately trying to have a baby with her English husband David. She does not get on with her step-children but her husband does not see the dire treatment she gets from them, leaving you to feel somewhat sympathetic to poor Marcie.
Sally is the cleaner for most of the residents of Bridgewater House. We do not know much about her when she is brought into the novel but her history develops more as the story goes on, so I shall not spoil that for you. Roddy, or Lord Pearmain, is the final resident we follow through the book. He has just finished a stint at an alcohol rehab clinic, and is desperately trying to convince his ex-wife Amanda to let him see their children. Bridgewater House used to belong to his family, so downsizing to one apartment within the house is a bit of a shock for Roddy.
The most enjoyable thing about this book was the characters, most definitely. They were all either really likeable, or totally horrid so you didn't mind not feeling sorry for them, or just loathing them! Sophie King has obviously thought a lot about the characters, each has a great history, and I like how they are not all thrown together at once, the relationships between the characters build nice and slowly, allowing you to follow the pace nicely and build a picture of the characters and surroundings properly in your head.
For me, I think Mollie was my favourite character. She is slightly eccentric, yet believes her love for her husband will conquer anything, even death. When she is dealt a devastating truth towards the end of the novel, King deals with it delicately and with a lot of grace, fitting with totally in with the character, and it left me feeling really quite sorry for poor old Mollie.
The lead character of the book, Louise, is having a hard time in her life, and the character to me seems very realistic and believable. The teenage children are written with a real knowledge of how a teenager behaves, particularly after a bad break up of their parents, and it was hard to read at points, as Louise's children were being, at points, vile to their poor mother. Louise was a very empathetic character, and the battle for her heart at the end of the book gives you a little bit of hope that the end of a relationship isn't the end of your love life altogether!
Almost all of the novel takes place at Bridgewater House, and Sophie King paints a wonderful picture of the house and the surroundings, especially the lake at the house. It really is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I really couldn't put it down. I was desperate to find out what was happening to the individual stories, and the group stories, which are cleverly intertwined and mix together perfectly.
Sophie King, a pseudonym for journalist Jane Bidder, is a talented writer, and the way she writes the characters and their relationship is fantastic. All the characters are believable, and importantly, likeable. She even makes the bad guys in the book out to be okay in the end, and you don't feel all that bad towards them, despite some of the things that they have done. I really cannot tell you how much I loved this book, except that I read it in 3 days, and with a mad toddler, that is no mean feat! Women's fiction at it's best! Simply superb.
ISBN: 978-0340922675. Second Time Lucky is published by Hodder Books and contains 412 pages in the paperback version of the book. RRP: £6.99.