Monday, 19 December 2016

Book Review: Before You Go by Clare Swatman


A few weeks back, I received a mystery parcel from the lovely Jess Duffy at Pan Macmillan. Normally, I’d hear from Jess prior to receiving books so I was a bit confused to open the parcel up to not one, but two, amazingly beautiful books to sink my teeth into. I’ve managed to finish one of them – Before You Go by Clare Swatman.

This book was probably one of the best I’ve read in 2016. It was absolutely everything I wanted in a book and I definitely read it at the right time – I recently separated from my long-term partner and the story centred itself around a woman going through the devastating loss of her partner. Whilst it’s definitely not the same thing, I found myself understanding the pain she was going through to some extent. I felt that being able to understand her pain definitely meant that the book appealed to me more and I felt incredibly similar emotions to Zoe, our protagonist.

The story begins with Zoe’s husband, Ed’s, funeral: a bit of a bleak start without a doubt. Naturally, Zoe isn’t taking his death very well at all, especially because of the friction between the couple prior to his passing. Everything gets a bit too much for Zoe and she finds herself in a little accident. When she awakes, she’s been transported back to the moments before she and Ed meet for the first time and she realises that she might be able to change the events of present day and save her husband from his impending fate. As an audience, we bear witness to their first meeting, their wedding day and a bunch of other important, prominent moments in their relationship. We watch as she attempts to alter little titbits of the past to ensure that her husband and ultimately her relationship survives the ordeal. The ending is beautifully bittersweet and left me feeling all warm and snuggly inside. An absolute success.

Zoe is a fantastic character and I found myself instantly drawn to her. I can honestly say that I’m sure that everyone has a moment in their lives that they wish they could go back to and change, and reading a story with this premise as the plot is enthralling. The story was breath-taking and absolutely beautifully written, everything that I could have wished for in a contemporary fiction novel. I honestly can’t wait to see what Clare has to offer us in the coming years as her debut novel will be an overwhelming success as far as I’m concerned. I honestly hope that everyone loves it as much as I have. It was incredibly difficult to put down once I’d got started with it, Clare’s way with words is honestly like nothing I’ve read this year (and I’m currently reading book 54 of the year; I’ve read a LOT of books). I hate to use the term “unputdownable” but it really, really was. If you do anything in 2017, then please, buy this book. It'll be published on February 9th, by Macmillan. Thanks to Jess for the advanced reader copy; you made my month! 

If it was possible to give this book more than 5/5 stars then I definitely would.

A fantastic, heart-warming debut. 


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