CONTEMPORARY

CONTEMPORARY

MAD HONEY by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan (Hodder £16.99, 464pp)

MAD HONEY

by Jodi Picoult & Jennifer Finney Boylan (Hodder £16.99, 464pp) 

Beekeeper Olivia escaped her abusive marriage and chose to raise her six-year-old son, Asher, alone, hoping this would prevent him becoming angry, controlling and violent like his father. 

Handsome, sporty, kind and popular, Asher is 18 when he falls in love for the first time with tiny, beautiful Lily, who recently moved to the town with her own single mother. Olivia is thrilled for Asher but her world crumbles when he finds Lily’s dead body at the bottom of her staircase and is arrested for her murder. 

The narrative alternates between Olivia’s perspective and Lily’s, moving backwards through their relationship and forwards through the court proceedings. It becomes clear that Lily was also running from something in her past, but it’s not until halfway through that her reason is revealed. I won’t give anything away, but will say this is one massive plot twist I did not see coming. 

It’s wonderful on identity, change, secrets, shame and starting over. I’m still thinking about it long after the final page. Fabulous. 

THE SOUND OF IT

by Alison Jean Lester (Bench Press £9.99, 214pp) 

Since her divorce over a decade ago, sound designer Su has been a single mother to her very self-possessed 16-year-old daughter. Jeremy is a widowed father of two young sons. After being on their own for so long neither had great expectations of further romance, but fall for each other hard and fast and within just months decide to live together. 

Neither of their current properties is big enough to accommodate this newly blended family of five, so they sell both and combine the profits. Jeremy has always felt like a disappointment to his dismissive father, and seizes upon the idea of building their own perfect house on a gorgeous piece of land as a way of rising in everyone’s estimation, not least his own. 

Su sees this project as a way of finally getting over the past heartbreak she can’t let go. It’s wonderful on relationships, parenting and deception, and especially piercing on the consequences of moving too fast.

SINGLE IN THE SNOW by Helen Whitaker (Hodder £8.99, 384pp)

SINGLE IN THE SNOW 

by Helen Whitaker (Hodder £8.99, 384pp) 

When Jen, 30, is dumped by yet another casual boyfriend she hoped would miraculously transform into The One, she decides to stay single for at least six months and learn to love herself. She also decides to continue with a planned long trip to Canada, by herself rather than with her ex. 

Despite having no experience of mountain life or any winter sport, Jen chooses the ski resort of Whistler as her final destination. 

Art is a snowboarding instructor who spends his time actively avoiding engaging with anyone beyond the most basic requirements. Traumatised by an awful accident a few years ago, Art feels frozen in time and incapable of intimacy. 

Jen gets a job which means she has to work with Art and it’s fair to say they get off to a very bad start. 

However, the more time they spend together the more Art begins to thaw and feel emotions he’s been closed off from for a long time. Thoroughly enjoyable. 

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