The One That Got Away by Lucy Dawson
|The One That Got Away by Lucy Dawson|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Clare Reddaway|
|Summary: An unusual take on the perennial love triangle. A contemporary chick-lit novel with the pace and suspense of a thriller.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: October 2010|
Lucy Dawson's latest novel is a cut above run-of-the-mill chick-lit pap. Molly Greene is happily married to Dan, and they live a normal twenty-first century life in a small town. She is a successful salesperson for a medical supplier. The couple struggle with the bills and hope to buy their own place. She spends time with two old girlfriends whose situations are different from hers, but who know our heroine inside out and will always be there for her for long, boozy heart-to-hearts. So far, so predictable.
What makes Molly a little different from every other heroine is that in her relationship, it is Dan, rather than Molly, who wants to have a baby. As far as he's concerned, the sooner Molly gets knocked up the better. Molly however is not so sure. It is this slight hankering after something else, something different in her life that leads her onto Facebook and onto the site of an old boyfriend. When she finds Leo's profile, she has not seen or heard from him since they split up some years before, after Leo was unfaithful to her. I don't think that it spoils the plot to say that she sends him a message. From that point on, the situation can only escalate.
This novel is a real page-turner. Dawson writes with confidence, verve and an attractive, chatty style. Her choice to make Molly the first person narrator gives the book an intimacy that makes the reader sympathise with the heroine. The dialogue is realistic and convincing. But what makes the novel compelling is the story. I did not expect the twists and turns that the narrative takes. The advent of the internet has given the romantic novelist a whole new raft of possibilities: of encounters with the past, of meetings, of liaisons and of messages which convey a delicious sexual frisson within the safety of a computer screen. However, Dawson removes that protection, takes the characters out of the computer and then uses that same technology in an unusual and quite threatening way. There is actual jeopardy here. Dawson manages to make the danger very real and believable without moving outside the parameters of the domestic world she has created. There are no car chases or gun fights, just collapsing lives. It is all the better for that.
The characters that Dawson has created are perhaps a less convincing aspect of the novel. Molly is well-rounded, but her side- kicks Joss and Bec are the slightly stereotypical single friends that have a direct lineage back to Bridget Jones. Molly's workplace is well-drawn, and I for one enjoyed her colleague Pearce. Dan is written as ridiculously nice, which might be a result of the first person narration. The least convincing character is Leo, whose legendary lazy charm does not seem to square with his behaviour. However, this can be overlooked in the breezy pace of the story.
Who has never wondered what happened to the boyfriend who got away? Who hasn't hankered, if only momentarily, for 'what might have been'? The internet has made these fleeting fancies into actual possibilities with real outcomes. It is all too easy to use a search engine to track down your past, a past that should remain buried where it belongs. Nowadays, it is possible to send a message without a moment's thought. After reading this novel it is unlikely you will ever press that 'send' button so thoughtlessly again.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
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