After her debut novel The Bones of You this author has chosen to provide us with another original idea as a premise for her second novel The Beauty of the End.
“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. Goddesses have that effect, even on teenagers such as I was. Being plump or uncool has no bearing on the ability to fall in love—and my fate was sealed.”
Noah Calaway is still haunted by the love of his life, his first love, April Moon. As he is cocooned from the world in the present day in his remote English cottage, writing a novel, he receives a phone call from an old friend Will. Will tells Noah that April is in hospital suffering from the overdose, but worse, she is accused of the murder of a man and will be arrested if she surfaces from her coma. Since Noah was a lawyer, and because he still loves April he races to the hospital where she is recovering and seeks to find out as much as possible about her life since he last saw her. He is convinced that April would never have resorted to violence, there must be another explanation.
This is a fairly slow-moving tale told in multiple time-lines between 1989 when Noah was fourteen and the present day. Told mainly from Noah’s viewpoint, he charts the ups and downs of their relationship until they parted when she left him shortly before their wedding. In amongst Noah’s narrative we have excerpts from a teenage girl having therapy; how Ella is related to the story is a mystery though.
This isn’t a book that rattles along, with the information drip-fed and the characters almost without exception either unlikable or plain weird, it did take a while to take shape but fortunately the rewards of sticking with both the pace and the characters is rewarded as the seeds sown early on in the book bear fruition.
The writing has a lyrical edge to it giving an almost dream-sequence feeling to some parts of the book which competed with the mystery angle of the murder, why April left Noah and who on earth is Ella? Lyrical it may be but the writing doesn’t flinch from packing an emotional punch every now and again with some painful truths being revealed.
“We were butterflies. Some of you fly, the rest of us get our wings ripped off. My wings had gone before I knew you. And I’m not sure wingless butterflies have anywhere to go.”
Although I was keen to understand what had happened, both in the years Noah and April had been apart as well as the investigation that Noah undertook, I’m not sure that I was fully engaged in the story itself partly because the latter parts of the story were a little bit too far-fetched which knocked my belief in the entire novel. This is definitely at the more literary end of the thriller selection of books and incredibly sad. In conclusion, if you are in the mood for a slow-burner with many layers, you can do far worse than to read this book.
I’d like to thank the publishers Kensington Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book which has led to this unbiased review.