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Susannah and Rob were childhood sweethearts many years ago. However, after she left home for university and he joined the RAF, they drifted apart and because of a couple of misunderstandings, their relationship came to an end. Years later, Susannah returns home for her brother's wedding and by chance, comes across Rob. All of her old feelings for him are stirred once more, but has too much time passed or is there a chance that they might have a future together after all? Elizabeth Noble's wonderful book, 'The Way We Were' tells the story of what happens after they meet as well as revisiting what happened to them in the past.
When Susannah comes across her old flame Rob at her brother's wedding, she instantly remembers all of the things that she loved about him. She cannot stop thinking about him and by doing so it makes her see her partner Doug in not such an attractive light. Doug pays her very little attention and often does not include her in his plans with his children. They seem to merely co-exist rather than share a life together which causes Susannah to become more and more dissatisfied, especially when she compares him with Rob. Although Rob has recently married, he starts meeting with Susannah in London on a regular basis and the flame is soon rekindled. However, they know that if they take things further, other are bound to get hurt.
Susannah also has other problems to deal with as her best friend Amelia is diagnosed with cancer and she promises to support her throughout the treatment. However, Amelia does not approve of Susannah's new found friendship with Rob and this causes the two women to fall out. Susannah finds herself caught in every direction and also struggles with the fact that she is in her thirties with very little to show for her life so far. It is very easy to emphasise with her as she attempts to do the right thing. She is faced with either following her head or following her heart.
'The Way We Were' is a beautifully written book that had me hooked from the very first page. The characters are all very vivid and it is quite easy to become caught up in their lives and the dilemmas that they face. It is also an extremely emotional read with some very sad moments. It may not be the best time to read it if you are facing similar issues either in your own lives or in someone's who is very close to you. There are definitely moments that had me reaching for the tissues. The story alternates between the present day and significant moments in the past. This works very well and helps the reader slowly piece together what went wrong in Rob and Susannah's relationship before. I liked this and it really helped me to keep my interest throughout the entire book.
I really enjoyed reading 'The Way We Were' but I did feel that I had been through a bit of an emotional roller coaster by the end of it. The story is certainly not predictable and, although I always hope for a happy ending, I could not be sure whether I would get one with this story. It is definitely a book that I would recommend as long as you have a good supply of tissues nearby.
The Way We Were is currently available in papperback onAmazon for only £3.83.
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk
Susannah and Rob were childhood sweethearts. But as with most early love affairs, they broke up, moved on and now find themselves in very different places. And not entirely happy - who is? A chance meeting between them sends shockwaves through their lives. What happens when your first love makes a surprise reappearance? Is fate telling you it's time for a second chance . . . or should you simply walk away and let the past become ancient history? But Susannah and Rob just aren't able to forget the way they were . . . and the world is about to realize the consequences of their reunion.
I always get really excited by the release of Elizabeth Noble's books because I fell in love with her writing ever since I read Things I Want My Daughters to Know, and this was followed up by the equally brilliant The Girl Next Door. So when Leah posted that Elizabeth's next book was due out this May, I was thrilled and therefore very happy when a review copy landed on my doorstep a few weeks ago. I managed to wait a few days before opening the book, but once I started I had a horrible feeling that I wasn't going to enjoy it as much as her previous 2 novels, and sadly for me I was right.
The book begins by introducing us to Susannah, a woman who is pretty unhappy with the state of her life. She's living with her partner Doug and his children when it's their turn to have them, but she isn't fulfilled by their relationship, not by a long way. Susannah is a pretty miserable character, and sadly doesn't change throughout the book, and I had such trouble warming to her at all. I could understand why she felt the way that she did, but something about her just made me feel unsympathetic towards her. I feel that Noble was trying to make Susannah a sympathetic character but because it didn't work for me, perhaps that skewed my enjoyment of the book.
I enjoyed the way it was written immensely, and felt that this is a big plus where the book is concerned. It is set in both the present day, and throughout the book are flashbacks to the childhood of both Susannah and Rob. This means that what happened between them is revealed slowly to us, and we get to know the characters properly before we know much about what happened to split them up when they were younger. I loved how easy it was to get into the chapters set in the past, I liked how Susannah was so different and how it highlights what the break-up did to her. As we progress through the book, the chapters in the past continue, and even deviate to things that happened to Rob once he was alone.
My major problem with this book is the mood of it. I felt that it was so depressing right from the beginning, and there just wasn't any let up through out the book which was so disappointing for me. Whilst her previous 2 books haven't exactly been happy, there have been elements of them being light-hearted in places and they never left me feeling upset and depressed by the end, yet that's exactly how I felt when I turned the last page of The Way We Were. I wasn't at all happy with the ending because it didn't leave things in a way I would have wanted them left, and therefore I felt that the whole of the book was just very depressing, and I just struggled to find even a bit of humour or happiness.
The way the story was meant that it was never going to be a cheerful book - it's all about lost love, your expectations in a partner not being met, and what happens if you sacrifice everything for something who can't sacrifice themselves for you, but even so I did expect some moments of relief. Noble has included some scenes with Susannah's step-children which were very well done because of the subject matters covered, and I think Noble has done them justice. The relationship between Susannah and Doug was well covered, but again not a happy one which did make some parts of it a chore. I expected to love the reuniting of Susannah and Rob, but it just left me feeling a bit awkward and therefore I found picking up the book to read on a bit of a task in parts.
For fans of Elizabeth Noble's previous books will definitely want to read this one simply because it's what you do when you love an author, but I just came away feeling really underwhelmed and quite depressed about it which was not what I expected at all. I didn't enjoy the book as much as I expected either, this can sometimes be the case when you hype a book so much to yourself but I really feel it was due to the storyline and the tone in this case. It is such a shame I couldn't rate this higher than 3 because it was very well written, the characters are all great in that you know them well, and I loved the way Noble tells us the story through flashbacks, but the negatives outweighed these things for me. Such a shame I can't say I enjoyed it more!
ISBN: 978-0718155353. Published by Michael Joseph on May 13th 2010. Pages: 464. RRP: £12.99.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review for http://chicklitreviews.com
Thank you for reading.