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The Last Place You Look - Norma Curtis

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Norma Curtis / Paperback / 352 Pages / Book is published 1998-07-20 by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

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      19.03.2009 15:33
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      I bought this book from a charity shop along woth a load of other random paperbacks as they were selling them cheaply and I'm always looking for reading material! I'd never heard of Norma Curtis before but the blurb on the back of the book sounded interesting. The front cover of the book I have is very different from the picture on dooyoo; my book has a garden chair and table in an orchard, although personally I think neither cover reflects the content of the book!

      Faye Reading is a lighting designer who has given up her career to deovote herself to her husband Nick, their adopted nine-year old son Samuel and their five-year old daughter Isobel. Faye developed a love of lights as a child; her mother kept the house in permanent darkness after Faye's father left so Faye compensated by hiding under her duvet cover with a torch and multi-coloured sweet wrappers, so that she could create her own light. Now she is settled in her own family life and finally has the light and security she has always craved.

      However this begins to change after three occurences threaten to cast shadows over her life again. A message on the answerphone, a visit to the doctor and the return of Alicia - Samuel's natural mother and Nick's sister - shake Faye to the very core.

      As the story unfolds we watch Faye face her personal demons and fight as hard as she can to keep herself and her life afloat as everything around her changes. She has many personal demons to face - her illness which may or may not be life threatening, Alicia's desparation to see Samuel, her husbands lies, her friend's betrayal and her relationship with her estranged father.

      The story is told in third person but changes points of view. so sometimes we are with Faye, and at other times with Nick, Samuel, Alicia or Nick's mother Edith.

      The plot kept me engaged as I think the writer managed to portray Faye well, so I liked her and wanted to know how things would turn out. Faye is not perfect by any means but she comes across as likeable. Her courage and strength of character shines through as she forces herself to confront and deal with everything that happens to her. Nick however is portrayed in a somewhat different light. He is Catholic and his self-centred reaction to Faye's possible illness is bizarre and left me quite frustrated at him. Susie - Faye's friend and ex-colleague - is portrayed similarly. On the one hand she claims to be concerned about Faye's health but on the other hand is cheating on her friend in an unimaginable way. The fact that I disliked Nick and Susie so much made me root for Faye even more.

      Samuel comes across as a scared and vulnerable boy, initally somewhat settled with his adopted family but now shaken by his natural mother's surprise arrival. I also liked Edith, Nick's mother. She is also a Catholic, although more devout than Nick, and although she likes Faye, is somewhat disapoointed in Nick's choice of wife. This comes across as a realistic scenario, for although Edith cares about Faye and they get on, Edith keeps her at arms length, obviously wishing that Nick had picked a more appropriate, Catholic wife.

      I found Alicia the weakest and least developed character. I couldn't really get a proper feel for why she abandoned her son and although I didn't want her to take Samuel away from Faye, I can't say I liked or disliked her as there was nothing remarkable about her.

      The ending was left open to a point but I think this was fitting with the story and left us with a glimmer of hope that the future might be ok for Faye.

      This story is about coping with whatever life throws at you, and trying to keep yourself out of the darkness. I would recommend this book as a short, quick and pleasant read.

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