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.
The Other Life of Charlotte Evans
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 her fiancee discovers a lump 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, with money worries, a dance injury, and the realisation that she is adopted all playing their parts, but when we meet Charlotte Evans in Chapter One, we meet a girl who appears to have it all. Yet 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, and 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. A strange and anxious weight rests in the pit of your stomach as you see the dynamics between 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 contain the upmost seriousness. My personal favourite segment 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 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 dialogue.
Eileen is my overall favourite character, not only for bringing up Charlotte in the strict but 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 action and consequence. However, that does not mean that things can’t happen because of no action at all. And the plans 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.