Over the last week or so, I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a book before its initial release, and it was such an amazing experience.
The book, sent to me by @HQDigital, is titled The Other Life of Charlotte Evans by Louisa George, and is set for release next month. [*September 9th, to be exact*]
Now before I begin, I have to say that the genres I dabble in most are fantasy and horror, and so this book was far out of my usual realm. In fact, I doubt I have ever read a book of this genre in my life, but I have definitely learnt from that mistake.
The Other Life of Charlotte Evans is a spectacular piece, full of heartache and discovery, which leaves you so invested in the characters and their choices, that when you finish the book, you need a moment to reflect on your own life and the impact your decisions have.
Whether you are an avid Louisa George fan, or just searching for a new book to read, I hope you enjoy this review.
The Other Life of Charlotte Evans by Louisa George
Would you sacrifice your future to understand your past?
Life is rosy for dance studio owner Charlotte Evans, who is about to marry beloved fiancé, Ben. But when Ben finds a lump in Charlotte’s breast, it sends her on a journey of self-discovery which she knows she must do alone. Charlotte is adopted, and she suddenly, desperately, needs to know who she is and where she comes from.
Finding and reconnecting with her birth family, the life Charlotte could have lived unfolds before her. As her wedding days draws closer, and her past merges with her present, Charlotte must decide what she really wants…
A heartrendingly beautiful novel about love, family, and finding your own path to happiness.
Disclaimer: My review contains no plot spoilers, but focuses mainly on the character development and general themes discussed in the proof.
Charlotte Evans is a lot of things. She is a dancer, a studio owner, a home owner, a fiancee, a best friend, and a daughter. But all of the above is thrown into disarray when a lump is discovered in her left breast, a few weeks before her wedding day.
She cannot believe it. She is only twenty-five, and up until now she has led a challenging but also satisfying life. There have been ups and downs, such as money worries, a dance injury, and the realisation that she is adopted, but when we meet Charlotte Evans in the first chapter, we meet a girl who appears to have it all.
But even though as an audience we can see she is surrounded by family and friends who care for her, Charlotte has an ever-growing fear that if she has been chosen to be a daughter, a fiancee, a best friend, then she can be unchosen too. And the discovery of this lump in her breast only adds to that fear.
Through George’s addictive paragraphs and almost-poetic descriptions, we see Charlotte’s life crammed into a box labelled ‘Uncertainty‘. Every room she enters, she appears to doubt her own feelings, and the feelings of those she cares deeply about. There is this consistent cloud of dread lingering ever near, which sees Charlotte take steps she never has before. These steps being the search for her biological mother, Carol, and finding out why she was given away as a new-born baby.
The Other Life of Charlotte Evans highlights how one incident – big or small – can have you questioning all you were certain of in the past, and how your perceptions can be altered so swiftly.
What I adore about this book is it’s realism. For chapters you wait for answers as Charlotte travels from waiting room to waiting room, from consultant to consultant. When she is in search of answers, the process feels gradual, almost painful. You can see the dynamics between her and her family and friends shift into a downward spiral, even though none of them wish for this to occur.
The character of Charlotte Evans is relatable to many women, or even men, who have come to a crossroads in their life, and know whatever choice they make, the consequences will affect all future endeavours.
Of course, there is humour within this book, even though the overarching themes are very serious. My personal favourite piece of humour, entwined with the stern blow of reality, is when Charlotte says she needs to find herself an article called How to Fix Something You’re Breaking but Can’t Seem to Stop in order to sort her now messy life out. And let’s not forget characters such a Lissa, Charlotte’s best friend of fifteen years, and Eileen, her adoptive mother, who also bring light to moments of darkness with their parallel, awkward humour.
Eileen is my overall favourite character, not only for bringing up Charlotte in the strict but also kind-hearted way she did, but for allowing Charlotte to make her own choices when it comes to finding out more about her biological family. Jealousy does not factor into it, only the fact that she loves her daughter irrevocably, and would do anything for her without hesitation.
Conclusively, this book is about conflict between the life you’re living and the unknown. What the future brings can depend on past actions and their consequences, however, that does not mean that things can’t change out of the blue. And the plan you’ve made – such as Charlotte’s and Ben’s five year plan – may be shattered in the process.
Louisa George’s book is insightful, and inspiring – it helps remind you that it’s never too late to search for answers, but also that you might not need them to live a fulfilling life surrounded by those who care for you, and you for them.
Overall rating: 4.5/5 – A very enjoyable read.
Disclaimer: Although this book was provided by Harper Collins Publisher [*@HQDigitial*], all opinions are one-hundred percent my own.
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