This is Now by Ciara Geraghty
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publishing Date: 9th February 2016
Source: Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!
Number of pages: 368
Genre: General Fiction (Adults)
An ordinary day. An ordinary bank. An ordinary street in an ordinary town. Nothing ever happens, until, one day, a shocking robbery turns life upside down for five people:
Cillian, a police detective,
Martha, the woman he thought was the life of his life,
Tobias, who came to Ireland after WWII and now lies in a coma, shot in the bank robbery,
Roman, the young Polish teenager who is suspected of pulling the trigger
and his mother Rosa, the cleaner, who dreamed of a better life for herself and her son . . .
. . . and things will never be ordinary again.
Ciara Geraghty’s writing has that rare ability to make you laugh out loud as well as cry. She combines tangled human relationships with humour, romance and warmth to create something truly special.
Since reading Ciara Geraghty’s last novel “Now That I’ve Found You” I was waiting impatiently for her new release – yes, as you probably guessed I totally adored this book and wanted more, more, more from this author. The excitement was on a very high level when my review copy of “This is Now” finally arrived at my doorsteps, with its gorgeous sparkly cover and very promising synopsis. It is a deeply moving story with believable characters. The author really knows how to write a captivating, thought – provoking story and she has this great talent to make you chuckle and in the next moment to bring you to tears. She’s not afraid to test her characters and to make them full of flaws, but she can also capture them in a way that have you rooting for them, wanting all to go well for them. What I also liked is the fact that you can’t say that this story is predictable – it could go in many ways and it really at the end that you see how the characters’ lives turned out and what happened to them.
But it was not like this that I didn’t have issues with this book, guys. It took me much longer to get into this story as expected and it was probably because… well, yes, I like when the characters have something in common, when their stories intertwine – and this novel was telling stories of some very different characters, who – on the surface – really didn’t have anything in common, it was just a coincidence that they were at the same time at the same place. Also, the stories were mostly sad, difficult and I also couldn’t get used to the way they were told. The chapters were set in present but each of them also told us stories from the past, introducing us to the characters’ previous lives, their stories, their background, and generally I wasn’t sure what this book wants to be about – because it was like having four different books in one.
The characters are maybe not the most likeable ones (at least not all of them) but they are realistic and they are this kind of characters that you, as a reader, quickly fall for. We have Martha, a freelance journalist insisting on having an “unhealthy relationship with alcohol” while in fact she’s an alcoholic, although over one year dry. But she still has her demons and it is an everyday battle for her and her addiction. There is also Tobias Hartmann, teaching Rosa English, as she and her son Roman are the immigrants for Poland who hoped to make a better life in Ireland and while at the beginning it looked really well for them, it then went belly up. They all find themselves at the bank when the robbery takes place. In the due course more characters are being introduced to us, among which Cillian Larkin is the most significant one – he is responsible to find out what happened at the bank, who did it and whose history we are also to get to know, as he reminds happy times with the person who has captured his heart.
The characters go through ups and downs, highs and lows, and we make this journey together with them. I can’t say I had a favourite character because they were all down – to – earth, realistic people. Yes, I can say that my heart went mostly to Rosa and Roman, and there is a very simple reason – it was great to read about immigrants from Poland, who, even though I think they were a tad too stereotyped by the author, were introduced in a good light, and it was a great joy to see that all the names of the characters and the places were spelled in a right way. Moreover, Rosa and Roman could be my neighbours, shall I still live in Poland, in Gdansk. I also liked Martha, her no – nonsense approach to life and not bothering about what other think about her and she lived her life just like she wanted to. They all were brought to life very well, I think.
However, I had a feeling there is too much said and too less done. I didn’t feel a part of this story. I think I also haven’t expected this book to be rather on the heavy side – I of course don’t mind but it took me somehow by surprise but of course I am not judging the book on my expectations. The pace in the story is relatively slow but I think we shouldn’t expect it to be quicker, as the individual stories and layers needed time to be unfolded. It is told in alternating chapters by the four main characters so we really have a lot of time to get to know them and their background.
I wanted to love this book, I truly did. In the end I can say that I liked and enjoyed this story and I for sure wanted to see how this tangled web of chances and events is going to resolve. “This is Now” is a story about dealing with the past, about dealing with a dramatic situation and its side effects. I wouldn’t say that it was the easiest read however I still enjoyed it and there is a lot of depth to it. I am in two minds about it, to be honest, because on the one hand we have the well developed characters and on the other their stories that actually don’t lead to a satisfying for me conclusion. But one thing is for sure – Ciara Geraghty can write, oh guys, how well can she write! Her writing style is captivating, inviting and she for sure can describe feelings and emotions. Also, there is so much and so great research done, every aspect of this book – no matter if it is wartime Dresden or nowadays police department – it feels realistic and genuine. She also exactly knows when and where add some humorous touches to defuse the situation and tension. So when it was not my favourite read by this author, she’s still at the top list of my favourite authors and I already looking forward to her next release.