The Message is very much a twenty first century tale as it all hinges on a voicemail message made from a mobile phone. It is also based on the fact that it is very easy to send a message to one person when it is actually meant for someone else. This is what happens to Jen when she receives a message from her husband Robert. There is nothing particularly special about this message; that is until Jen realises that she is not the intended recipient and then it has a shattering effect on her marriage.
The message is received on the very first page of the book. From then on, there are two parallel stories for the reader to follow. Firstly there is the story of what happens to Jen and Robert's marriage. However, there is also another story that takes place thirty years earlier and tells of Jen's life growing up as a sergeant's daughter on a German army base and of how she fell in love for the first time. Ultimately, the two stories merge in a poignant but not unexpected climax.
I felt that the two storylines weaved together very well and it was easy to move back and forward in time with Jen. There was a good pace and the suggestion of certain events that might have occurred which really made me want to read on and find out what had happened, particularly in Jen's earlier life. Both stories were quite intriguing but it was also fascinating for the reader to see how Jen had changed over time. In Germany she was a timid young thing too afraid to stand up for herself and as a consequence she could have been accused of being a doormat. This is not the case with the older successful Jen who definitely knows what she will or will not tolerate in her marriage. However, on meeting Kit again, some of those older insecurities do threaten to resurface especially when she unexpectedly meets up with his formidable mother.
Jen is a great central character both as a young girl and a woman. From the moment I started reading I liked her and I wanted things to turn out well for her. She is also very much the stronger character particularly when compared to the men in her life.
The story only occurs because of a small slip of the finger on Robert's mobile phone but it does demonstrate how all our lives are bound up in the complexities of technology these days. More so though, the story illustrates the complexities of relationships and that is one thing that has not changed over time. Overall though, this is an absorbing story that manages pathos and humour equally well. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.
The paperback which has just over 400 pages is available from Amazon for £4.17.
A similar version of this review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Jennifer Boyde has no idea that her perfect life is about to unravel, so when she hears a voice message from her husband Robert to someone named Jon, Jen is perplexed. All soon becomes horribly clear to Jen and she can't believe her orderly life has unravelled in such a way. Jen's world is shaken to the core and becomes even more confusing when a face from the past reappears. Jen met Kit Avery on an airbase in Germany and although she thought he was out of her league, they ended up dating for an entire summer. Jen thought Kit would be her one and only so when a tragic accident sends Kit away, Jen doesn't think she'll ever see him again. Years later, Kit and Jen meet again and are both forced to confront what happened that summer at the airbase, as well as their feelings for each other. Is it possible for your first love to really be your only love?
The Message is Julie Highmore's eighth book but is described on the front cover, by the Bookseller, as her "breakout book". Since I haven't read Julie's other seven books I can't really say if this is better than her others however I've read a few synopses for her earlier books and The Message does sound as if it's a bit of a departure from her earlier books and thus, probably is her breakout book of sorts. I really enjoyed reading The Message and I can see why all of the magazines and publishing sites are raving about the book.
The book opens as Jen is listening to a message from her husband Robert, a message that was supposed to go to his gay boyfriend, and the message changes her life. Jen's learning of Robert's cheating sends her into a bit of a spiral that ends in her feeling incredibly lonely and as if her life will never be the same again. We then cut to Kit in Norfolk and we find out his brother Pip has gone missing. It adds a lot of intrigue to the book and we then go back to Germany in 1969 and the summer in which Kit and Jen fall in love. The book then alternates chapters from Jen's present point of view, Kit's present point of view and the summer in Germany in 1969. The changes of perspective are done seamlessly and I found all three perspectives interested me.
The book spends a lot of time in 1969 at the airbase in Germany and that particular summer in which Kit and Jen fall in love. There was an air of mystery surrounding the whole summer in Germany and I couldn't wait for the reveal to find out what had happened to cause Kit and Jen to never see each other again. Everything we learn about living on an airbase in the 1960's seemed genuine and I really felt as if I was living in that airbase alongside Kit and Jen. It was easy to see how easily Jen fell in love with Kit and it definitely came across to me that Jen loved Kit more than Kit loved Jen. Jen and Kit's relationship always seemed doomed from the start, though, and Kit's mother, Mrs Avery, seemed determined to break them up for reasons I still fail to truly understand. My whole enjoyment of the book was going back to 1969 to carry on learning all about that fateful summer.
There weren't many characters in the book as the main focus of the book was undoubtedly Jen and Kit. Their love in Germany was easily believable especially since they seemed to be each others first loves. In 1969 Jen had a naivety about her that was sweet and endearing and I loved the fact Kit was wise for his age and had his own views on things. The Kit and Jen of 2003 seemed a bit cynical about the whole love thing, Jen having discovered her husband was a gay adulterer and Kit never having settled down at all. It was a bit difficult to compare the Kit and Jen of 2003 to the Kit and Jen of 1969, the change in them was a bit surprising, but as the story unravels it all seems to make sense. The other characters I felt were integral to the book all seemed to be from 1969 rather than 2003. Mrs Avery, Kit's mother, was ever present throughout the 1969 chapters and makes an appearance in 2003 also. I never really warmed to Mrs Avery and I always thought she came across as a bit of a cold fish. Mr Avery, Kit's dad, makes a few appearances throughout the summer in Germany and I loved him whenever he appeared. I found it very difficult to see how a man like him, so sweet and kind, had married a woman like Mrs. Avery, prone to spitefulness and quite mean. The only main characters in 2003 seemed to be Kit's nephew Adam, whom I liked, as well as his brother (and Adam's dad) Pip. Pip, however, is missing for most of the book but he did seem to be an integral to the story particularly since everything that happened in 1969 affected him also.
Julie Highmore's writing is very clever as while I found the book to move at quite a slow-pace I did actually find it a very absorbing read and I found myself dying to know what had happened. That was obviously down to how good Julie is at crafting a story. When I first started reading the book I never guessed I'd enjoy it as much as I did and I can't get over how good it was. It may not be a fast-paced book nor have a heroine in her twenties but it is a good old-fashioned story and is definitely worth a read. Julie Highmore has managed to create such a fantastic past for her characters which as the book goes on becomes more and more intriguing until you're bursting to know what had happened. I love it when I start reading a book and have no real idea how much I'm going to love it until I've turned the last page and find that, actually, I could go on reading another 400 pages!
This was to me, the most boring of books. Much to do about nothing, springs to mind, as the story seemed to lack any depth, and left me feeling I could take it or leave it.I have not read any of this authors works, and shall not be seeking any more.Extremely disappointing, as I was looking forward to a good read.I,m not terribly keen on books which alternate from the past to the present in each chapter.Great book for the insomniac!