Take one day and four strangers; by the time the clock strikes midnight, nothing will be quite the same for any of them again.
I chose this book at a time when I was beginning to appreciate the mixing up of my genres and thought that this sounded much lighter than my normal murder and mayhem, and it was, but please don’t mistake that phrase to mean that it wasn’t just as clever as the most intricate of mystery plots!
The four strangers are Caro, Lila, Cammy and Bernadette – Caro & Lila are in their early thirties, Cammy about a decade older and Bernadette is grandmother, a woman in her fifties. The plot is complex because there is a cast of if not quite thousands, many, many characters, and yet at no point did I feel confused. Even better for those who like an aide memoire, the section before the prologue gives a who’s who guide.
Mel Cairney – The unrequited love of Cammy’s life, now happily married to Josie’s son, Michael, and living in Italy.
One Day in December is told over a twenty-four hour period starting on Saturday 23 December at one minute past midnight and finishing (except for epilogues parts one and two) at a minute past midnight on the same day. As you can imagine the author has lots to fit in with the four strangers present lives and to ensure that their actions make sense, their back stories and the feel of the read is fast and furious which gave rise to plenty heart in the mouth moments.
In short the story is:
Caro sets off on a train to try to track down her Dad to see if what she’s discovered could possibly be true, Lila is busy taking selfies while waiting to drop a bombshell on her married lover’s life, Cammy is planning a proposal against the advice of his closest friends and Bernadette has decided she’s had enough and is leaving her bullying husband of thirty years. 23 December is a definitely a busy day for these four whilst the rest of the world is doing their last-minute Christmas shopping.
With all of that busyness in the storyline you could be forgiven for expecting the characters to be broad brushstrokes on the page but again, Shari Low’s prowess with her pen had me amazed. I cared about several of these characters, despised a couple more and had admiration for others, I laughed with some of the characters and laughed at others and these are not the sort of emotions that can be evoked without having a real feeling of who these people were.
This book is one whose ending deserves a special mention which I alluded to earlier – as all the action happens in twenty-four hours (and two minutes) the finale can only ever take us so far and the two epilogues wrap things up whilst staying true to the book that precedes it.
I raced through this book and sometimes that means that the experience is a little like when you gobble up a sweet dessert but soon forget quite how it tasted; I haven’t forgotten this book though. How could I? It has far too much substance!
I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of One Day in December via the publishers, Aria, and this review is my unbiased thanks to them, and the huge talent which is Shari Low. This may be the first book I’ve read by this author but it definitely won’t be my last.