by Carol E. Wyer
Publishing Date: 22nd April 2016
Source: Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 285
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Buy the Book: Kindle
Take a chance on a new life and maybe you’ll find your happy ever after. Because true love is always worth the risk…
Handsome prince, beautiful house, fabulous job? Polly has none of these. All she has to her name is a string of failed relationships and she’s up to her ears in debt. She sees herself as a hopeless case and would do anything to change her luck.
Simon is approaching the big 50. He’s off his game at work, his kids don’t seem to notice he exists and his wife seems to think he’s made of money. As for sex …what’s that?
So when the opportunity comes for both of them to swap their lives for a life of luxury, they jump at the chance. For Simon a life of helicopters, fast cars and hot babes beckons. For Polly, it’s all diamonds, spa days and celebrity parties. What more could they want?
Trouble is, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Is life in the fast lane more than either of them can cope with?
I love stories with swaps, I just love them, no matter if they’re books or films. Well, at least I assumed that „Life Swap” is about…. yes, life swap As this novel is by Carol Wyer, whose books I’ve read before and highly appreciated, I didn’t even read the synopsis before I requested it on NetGalley. I thought, well, Carol Wyer, so I am for sure for a real treat, a clever, intelligent, funny read with a twist. However, very quickly after starting the read I also started to panic and I was thinking, what the hell (pun NOT intended!)? What is this pile of whingeing, sad characters? I was SO CLOSE to put it away, to be honest, but I kept reading, having in mind the author and hoping for something to change. You must really bide your time, as more as the first 30% of this book is really hard to plough through.
But. As soon as we were introduced to the devils, the story really kicked off!
And oh my word, I’ve so often wished I could swap places with someone! But after reading the book I think I’ll stop wishing it However, Simon and Polly went for this, and the results were sometimes hilarious and sometimes dramatic. This time the characters don’t know each other, have nothing in common, except of feeling their lives are miserable and wondering if it’s ever going to be any better and if they can do something to change it. While Polly is up to her nose with debts and failing relationships, Simon is on the verge on the mid – life crisis, having a feeling that he’s not appreciated, that he’s not good at his job, that he’s not needed anymore. Sounds familiar, right? I think we all have been there, seen this, so the characters are relatable and believable, though their whingeing and unhappiness was overwhelming. Nevertheless, there couldn’t be a better thing than a life swap, right…? To have no financial worries, to have a wardrobe full of designer clothes, to have a wife who will do anything for you…? Well, as they say, the grass is not always greener on the other side and appearances can be deceiving.
I had some problems with Polly, I must admit. In the first part of the story she – apart of whingeing and being unhappy all the time – seemed to be a real doormat, and the way the author described her she allowed people to trample over her, let them to undermine her and it felt as if she didn’t have her own opinion on anything. However, after swapping the lives the whole new Polly was presented to us: assertive, self – confident, knowing what she wants from life and somehow it just didn’t sit with me, it didn’t fit in, she changed life and not personality, right? Altogether, the characters were mostly unhappy, with themselves, with their lives, with their families and jobs and blamed everything and everyone for this situation. It was really hard to get to like them at the beginning, you know?
However, the big twist at the end of the book could have totally spoil the book for me, as I really wasn’t sure what to think about it. At first, I was so outraged on behalf of the characters, personally I felt deceived and was really curious what the characters are going to do with this. I must admit, I was a little surprised that they took it in such relaxed way, I’m not sure what would be my reaction. But okay, it’s their decision and I won’t be judging them. I guess that they’ve just felt relief.
Also, the returns to the past were the parts that I didn’t like. At all. It was like in films, when the main characters suddenly remember about something and you can see the pictures somewhere above their heads, in a cloud, but it was a book, not a film, and it just a) in my opinion didn’t bring anything new to the story, b) walked us away from the main plot, c) slowed down the already slow pace. I understand the need to describe the characters’ lives in a dullest way possible, to show us the smallest details of their existences so that we can know the background and understand the reasons they decided to go for the swap. But the first third of the story was only about people complaining about their lives and it was really hard to get into the book, to like the characters. I felt depressed sometimes with the situations, with Polly and Simon, and also desperate and a little annoyed that they only complain an do nothing to change this what they don’t like. And it felt like for ever, like never – ending complain list, and these flashbacks have dragged the pace down even more. What was worse, even after the swap, when it finally, eventually took place, Simon and Polly were still unhappy. But – and please, trust me here – you must go through the 35 or something per cent of the story and then you can just go with the flow and let the author to take you on a brilliant adventure with fantastic, incredibly funny demons. I loved the demons. They were the best part of the book, I think.
Sure, this book is one big lesson for us, but lesson written in a very pleasant, not too patronizing way. We can think that other people are better than us, have better lives than ours but at the end of the day it is really your life, your choices, your family that matter. The other things can be so shiny, can look so impressive but it’s only the surface, and underneath it is also full of troubles and secrets, maybe of different kind to ours, but they’re still there – and we know these things, right? But it’s nice to be reminded to appreciate what we have, and Polly and Simon also begin to realise what they can lose.
But, you know, on the whole, when you forget about the beginning and the flashbacks, I absolutely enjoyed the book. It was a great story, very cleverly plotted, intelligent and the humour there was of the highest class. Once the swaps happened, it was a different kind of story that I adored and when reading it was thinking thanks god it’s not me! The consequences of the swaps were brilliant – for the reader, of course, as the characters wanted out as quick as possible, but you must read it for yourself and see why they wanted out – it was hilarious! The book really got going after the swaps and it was full of surprises till the end.
You must just allow the author to take you on a rollercoaster ride and expect the unexpected. It’s a hilarious, sometimes unbelievable yet believable story that made me laugh and roll my eyes and I was really surprised at the end how much I enjoyed it. It’s a unique, smart take on normal people with normal lives. Sure, sometimes over the top, too far – fetched but somehow it just suited this novel and went brilliantly with the plot. But next time when I’ll complain about my own life or will want to compare it to this of other people, I’ll be very careful what I wish for…