I’ve always been a huge Freya North fan; she writes great books, her characters are sassy and pithy and her story lines unpredictable and wise and her prose is witty and sexy and makes you want to read more. I’ve loved all the books she’s written and they’ve grown up along side me more or less; Chloe suited me when I was raw and new and Cat when I was ready for a challenge and Thea when I was needing to think about what I wanted and what sacrifices were necessary and reasonable.
I like her too because I once emailed her in response to a dedication in the back of her book and she replied and I appreciate people who make that sort of effort. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog recently too and so was looking forward to Chances coming out. If I was made a bit sad that she deleted a comment I left there (which went something along the lines of ‘I’m really hoping you’ve written a book that isn’t about people dying or babies because I’m really looking forward to enjoying another of your novels’ in what I thought was a cheerful if ironic voice) perhaps I understood better when I’d read it, because in fact the book is about dealing with loss and grief (ha! thanks universe!) and there is even the odd baby. Perhaps she was worried I had secretly already read it 🙂
I did also read that she’d had a hard time personally during the writing of this one. Perhaps it has been obvious from her last couple of characters that’s she’s feeling more melancholy. The women have been a little more squashed in character, a little more broken and the themes of the books has been more about ‘picking up and moving on’. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, at my age and in my circumstances, I think it might even be a good thing, but they’ve made me laugh less. Perhaps I’m not in the mood for laughing so easily.
Chances is about two people shaking off the tendrils of the past and the relationships they’ve been in which have ended for various reasons and taking the risk of starting again. As far as that goes, it is well drawn and actually I think I believed in the character of Oliver, the potential love interest and Tim, ex-rat, most of all. Vita seemed a little passive but that was okay, because she was being passive and her friends and the people around her gave her a metaphorical slap for it. I think we all have times in our life like that. My favourite character of all was Jonty, Oliver’s son and Oliver was enough like Max for me to honestly believe that Jonty really was as nice and well balanced as he was. I liked Jonty, I wanted it to end well for him. It half made me laugh too that two of the characters owned a crafty shop and go to trade shows. Perhaps she’s been reading my blog…. 😉
Chances isn’t the pacey, sexy novels of Freya’s back catalogue but it isn’t less enjoyable for it. It’s believable and it ticked all my boxes of drawing a picture, making me feel I knew the characters and letting me see the village and a snapshot of a life. It was that, a snapshot, a whimsical, fleeting turning point moment for a five people. It didn’t challenge me and at one point I worried most that it wouldn’t have the ending I was expecting. I liked them all and wanted it to end well for them. For that, if not for a ripping yarn I sighed in satisfaction at the end of, I liked Chances well enough.
I’d like some sassy, sexy characters back now though. I really hope the tough time is past for her and the sparkle flickers back into her next heroines; I always love them, they always feel like friends and I want to keep meeting new people from her imagination.