If You Could Go Anywhere by Paige Toon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 16th May 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
The brand new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Paige Toon. The perfect summer read for 2019!
Angie has always wanted to travel. But at 29, she has still never left her small mining town in the Australian outback. When her grandmother passes away, Angie finally feels free to see the world – until she discovers a letter addressed to the father she never knew and is forced to question everything.
As Angie sets off on her journey to find the truth – about her family, her past and who she really is – will enigmatic stranger Alessandro help guide the way?
“If You Could Go Anywhere” introduces us to Angie, who always wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps and travel all over the world. She was known in the town as the one always asking people “if you could go anywhere, where would you go?” However, the circumstances didn’t allow it. Angie lives in Coober Pedy in Australia, a mining town, where her grandfather used to work before he died in an accident. Angie was left only with her grandmother, as her mother also died, shortly after giving birth to her. Her plans to travel have been delayed after her grandmother fell ill and Angie had to look after her. After her death she discovers something that is going to change her life and her whole world and prompts her to set forth on her first travel to Italy.
I confess, I’ve never heard about Coober Pedy and its people living in the dugouts. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine it, people living in caves, I mean, how? But of course people’s best friend Google was very helpful, and I’ve spent a fascinating few hours surfing through different pages and looking at photos of the dugouts – they are not only homes but there are hotels, churches, swimming pools… everything! Have learnt something new again, and it’s a brilliant feeling.
Also, the whole fictional community in Coober Pedy was simply great. They stick together, they support and they know everything about each other but not in this nosy, patronising way, no, it’s simply because they care. It was crystal clear how much Angie means to all of them and how much they mean to Angie.
Angie is such a straightforward characters, and I think it is due to the fact that she has spent all her life in Australia. But it doesn’t mean that she’s naive or silly, oh no, she’s a lovely and clever girl who took the opportunity and learnt a lot from people from all over the world who came to work in the mines. I loved her fresh look at the world, at her enjoying everything in such a fresh, genuine way.
Alessandro was another matter. I must admit that at the beginning I liked him much more than at the end. Sure, I know where he was coming from, I understood his feelings, and his secrets were heart – breaking but simply, this dark side of his just didn’t sit with me. This blowing hot and cold – yes, I know he didn’t want any commitments, he didn’t want to hurt anybody but did he think it through that being like this he does hurt people? Nevertheless, he was a complex and complicated character, just like I like it best.
I really enjoyed the fact that Paige Toon takes us on the tour through Roma and other parts of Italy, and that we can admire them through the wide – opened eyes of Angie but it was not too touristy – hope you know what I mean. Sometimes authors focus so much on describing every single thing in towns, on discovering the hidden places that you have a feeling it’s not a story but a tourist guide. Well, with this book it was not the case. When we near the end, the story significantly gains momentum. I don’t mean that it was slow – paced, because the pace was really great, there was all the time something happening, but because of the art of the events it felt like a roller – coaster ride at the end. It made your heart palpitate as you know that there is not much time left and you can’t be sure of the outcome.
It was a beautiful and romantic journey full of feelings and emotions. A magic story about learning to let go and to trust again, about friendship, family bonds and forgiveness. The extra bonus was the gorgeous setting of Italy and the brilliant and spot – on descriptions of the Italian family, big and loud and full of heart for everybody. I must admit that this time the story and the writing style reminded me a little on Karen Swan and her novels that I simply adore, there was also the element of mystery in “If You Could Go Anywhere”. Paige Toon also deals with the issue of mental health and of feeling guilty, and she does it in a great, gentle way, and I really appreciate the fact that she decided to write about this topic, it’s important and too often ignored, so hats off to the author for this – and I so liked the fact that this time it was a male character with the mental health problem, the author showing that the men can also be vulnerable, that they have feelings and that they can suffer for so long, and that it’s even harder for them to do something, to open up, to confess. I don’t know why but I have a feeling that this book is somehow a little bit serious in tone that the previous novels by Paige Toon. I mean, they were always dealing with serious issues as well but this time it just deals with such deep and pulling at the heart strings issues – another brilliant work from Paige Toon that I highly recommend!