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Dara should be a happy. She works as her dream job, a social worker, and is very good at it. Since being a child, though, Dara has wanted her dream wedding, and she's spent most of her adult years searching for her one true love. Which she hasn't got with her two timing boyfriend.
Edward is a teacher, who also plays violin, and who lives with his ex girlfriend and her two year old child.
Neither have the life they always dreamed for, and neither know what to do about it. Dara secretly longs for Edward, but would never admit it, and Edward has more then just a soft spot for their daring, out spoken friend Abigail, who is happily married.
As the four fight their feelings for each other, and try to deal with the hands that life deals them, Margot creates a beautiful picture of the delicacy of human relationships. The story line is simply the front to what really is an amazing insight into different people and their aspirations, and I found this book quite gripping for that reason. That said, the storyline itself is lacking, and there are long periods of sadness.
Firstly, a little bit of info about the author...Margot Livesey is Scottish, but has lived in the USA for many years. Rather sadly, she is not well known here in the UK, but is famous in the USA. I discovered her through my mum, who is a big fan - and not just because Livesey is an excellent author. There was a long standing relationship between her family and my mum's, particularly my gran. So much so that my mum's name is used for a minor character in one of Livesey's novels.
The House On Fortune Street was published in 2008, and is available from Amazon.co.uk. Sometimes Livesey's books can be hard to find here, but this one was easily available from publication date. I've never seen any of her novels in a library though.
It tells the story of four people whose lives are connected. Sean lives with Abigail, whose best friend is Dara, who is rebuilding her relationship with her father, Cameron. Abigail and Dara meet at university in St Andrews, and as they grow older both move to London, where Dara becomes Abigail's tenant. Sean leaves his wife for Abigail, and continues to struggle with his PhD on Keats. Cameron struggles to come to terms with the mistakes which caused his separation from Dara and her younger brother.
The best description of Livesey's writing is that it is a study of characters. There are life changing events and shocks in the novel, but they are eased into the story gently and don't take precedence. In my opinion the story takes second place to the characters, they are what drives the writing. In many ways Livesey is similar to Ian McEwan; both writers take exceptional but in many ways everyday events and use them to explore their characters emotions and reactions.
The four stories in The House On Fortune Street are interconnected but also individual. We hear Sean's story first, which obviously involves a lot of Abigail's story, and some of Dara's, including one major event. However, we learn a lot more about Abigail in her story, and I felt a lot more affection for her then than for the Abigail I learned about from Sean.
The women's stories are told in third person, but the men's in first person. The most shocking and eventful is Cameron's story. We hear about his childhood, his marriage and then the break up. It's clear from an early point what direction his story is going to take, yet I was willing it not to go that way. His story has a lot of bearing on Dara's story, as what happens to him affects her, even though she doesn't know what actually happened.
There is no main character in this. I've thought about this a lot, and every time I come to a different conclusion and then reject it. For example, I might think Dara is the main character but then I think about Abigail's story - each character is equally balanced in importance.
Livesey's writing flows extremely well. The stories entwine together naturally, and the characters are explored in depth. I had high expectations of The House On Fortune Street, having found myself caught up completely in Livesey's previous novels, and I was not disappointed - I couldn't put it down.
I really would recommend The House On Fortune Street to all readers, but more than that, I'd strongly recommend you check out any of Margot Livesey's novels. She is an exceptional writer, and worth the trouble to seek out her novels.