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Review: This is not Forgiveness by Celia Rees

This is not forgiveness by Celia Rees
Published by Bloomsbury

Everyone says that Caro is bad ...but Jamie can't help himself. He thinks of her night and day and can't believe that she wants to be his girlfriend. Gorgeous, impulsive and unconventional, she is totally different to all the other girls he knows. His sister, Martha, hates her. Jamie doesn't know why, but there's no way he's going to take any notice of her warnings to stay away from Caro. But as Jamie falls deeper and deeper under her spell, he realises there is more to Caro - much more. There are the times when she disappears and doesn't get in touch, the small scars on her wrists, her talk about revolutions and taking action, not to mention the rumours he hears about the other men in her life. And then always in the background there is Rob, Jamie's older brother, back from Afghanistan and traumatised after having his leg smashed to bits there. Jamie wants to help him, but Rob seems to be living in a world of his own and is increasingly difficult to reach. With Caro, the summer should have been perfect ...but that isn't how things work out in real life, and Jamie is going to find out the hard way. This taut psychological drama is the brilliant new novel from acclaimed Celia Rees.

This is a Celia Rees book like no other. Everything you've come to expect from her writing, every preconceived idea you have about what her work is like completely forget when you start this book.

The book starts quite dramatically by giving you the end of the story first and then working back through the series of events that led up to that final scene explaining and delving into what happened and why. The story then is split between first person narratives of the three main characters: Jamie, his older brother Rob and Caro. Each of their voices within the story are very different from each other and distinct in their own way which is something I really loved about this book. All too often you read books with split POV and you lose track of which person it is who you are hearing from because they are so similar.

The main plotline of this story really gets under the skin of what it means to belong and also deals quite sensitively with the on-going trauma service men and women can face as a direct result of serving their country in the frontline. It also gets quite well into the mindset behind the type of person who would willing sign up for one of the forces and what motivates them to do so. I found the parts of the story from Rob's point of view really insightful and downright disturbing when you saw what a continued emotional impact his experiences had on him as a direct result of him putting his life on the line for his country. His story was raw and a little bit too realistic to make for comfortable reading.

I loved the main character of Jamie and the contrast being his personality and that of his brother's. He is so naive in comparison viewing the world with untainted eyes often taking things as they coming and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

Caro was also an interesting character and a real product of her upbringing when you looked at her interactions with other people. If nothing else you get from her the value of family and the gap that not having one (or not having one who i actually around and interested) can have in a person's life and how that changes their outlook on life.

The story itself twists and turns along its merry way until it comes back round full circle. I liked how it kept me guessing about how and where it was going to go even though I already had an idea about the ending.

A book that I enjoyed and a surprisingly different offering from an author I thought I knew so well.



Cait said…
I started reading this but never finished it. After reading your review I'm definitely going to pick it back up

The Cait Files