“It's too much; it's painful. But it's delicious, good-bad pain, like the sugar-burn at the back of your throat when you’ve taken a great, jammy bite of a doughnut.”
You know those authors whose books you just automatically buy? Where you won’t even need to read the blurb, or know anything about the book beyond that it has their name on the cover? Beth O’Leary is that for me. Her writing, the characters she creates, the stories she brings to life. Her latest novel, The No-Show, only proved this to me further.
Meet the no-show himself, otherwise known as Joseph Carter. He has three dates scheduled on Valentine’s Day, except, he doesn’t turn up to any of them...
At breakfast, life coach Siobhan swears she’ll teach her casual hook-up a lesson for standing her up.
At lunch, tree surgeon Miranda cannot understand where her put-together boyfriend, Carter, could be.
At dinner, Jane prepares to enter a party without her friend, Joseph, by her side.
Without a reasonable explanation for his absence, Joseph tries to make it up to all three of them.
We follow the lives of Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane in the months following their disaster dates, and find that there is far more to the story than meets the eye.
It is clear that The No-Show is O’Leary’s most ambitious book to date – she has really kicked it up a gear. There are four main characters, each with their own lives, histories, anxieties, and quirks.
“Why on earth would she do that, when the very last thing Siobhan wants is to be left alone.”
This leads to a sprawling list of characters and storylines. Each of the women read very differently on the page, with the headstrong Siobhan differing to the more relaxed Miranda and the reserved Jane, yet the complexity of the storylines and the multiple voices is threaded seamlessly by O’Leary's infamous light writing. She guides us through the story, creating three separate stories in one, with ease, turning a complex concept into a page-turner. The sprawling stories expand with each chapter, and I really started to wonder how on earth it was all going to tie up. That is, until the twist...
I won't spoil anything but this is one of those really satisfying twists, a real light-bulb moment for the reader. I didn't see it coming at all!
Overall, this is a tear-jerker novel about love and loss, with a complex concept, wonderful characters, and beautiful writing. Beth O’leary just gets better and better.
Thank you to Team Beth at Quercus for sending me a proof of this gorgeous novel!
Thank you for reading,
Some quotes from the book that I loved:
“There was nothing in his face that explained why he was quite so engagingly good-looking, but when she met his eyes, she felt that dangerous, animal thrill that you feel in the presence of someone beautiful."
“It comes from somewhere dark and impulsive, the part of herself that might stand on the train platform and - for a split second - imagine stepping forward on to the tracks.”
“That sort of kindness, it gets into your bones. Once you've felt it, you can't help but look for ways to pas the feeling on.”