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Tangled Lives - Hilary Boyd

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Author: Hilary Boyd / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 28 February 2013 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc / Title: Tangled Lives / ISBN 13: 9780857385192 / ISBN 10: 0857385192

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      11.08.2012 09:22
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      A secret from the past changes the present and the future

      When Annie Delancey was 18 years old, she gave a baby up for adoption. That was 35 years ago, but Annie tells us she still thinks about him now and then, wondering where he is now and what he's doing. It's something we can only take her word for, because almost the minute we get to know Annie, something happens. She receives a letter from her now grown up son, asking to meet her, and the pleasant world she has now built for herself, her second attempt at a family life, starts to crumble.

      This is the sort of the story you read and realise nothing is ever going to be the same again for the characters. Even keeping his distance, Daniel will have a huge impact on their lives and a lot of the chapters are coming to terms with this fact and the realisation that even secrets as massive as this one can be kept hidden for years.

      I was almost surprised there wasn't more talk of adoption throughout the book - the process then, what Daniel had done now to track down Annie and so on. It was all brushed over really, as if it was so simple or mundane that it didn't matter, and any way that was the past and the main issue now was the present. I don't think it let the book down, it was just a different way of doing things and not quite what I had expected.

      This was a book I fell into easily, and which I enjoyed. I was surprised I didn't find it more emotional, though, because I felt that was what the author was going for and yet it didn't touch me in that way. When Annie talks about her teenage self giving up Daniel as an infant, and when they then subsequently meet in adulthood, I found it quite ordinary rather than touching, though I can't quite put my finger on what was missing.

      This surprising lack of weep-inducing words aside, I really rate this book. Although Daniel is the reason everything changes in Annie's world, the story isn't massively about him, but about the impact he has. Her husband Richard and her other son Ed's behaviour earn much more of the focus, as does her quite hilarious mother Eleanor. The writing is extremely fluid and nothing seemed out of proportion - Annie's a fabulous baker, for example, but this wasn't a book about baking so the few passages where she was in the kitchen gave a nice flavour without overpowering the rest of the story. An easy and enjoyable read.

      This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk You can pre-order the Kindle or paperback versions now.

      Release date: August 2012

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