The Year that Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly
Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 406
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Three women celebrate their birthdays . . . 30. 40. 50. But their milestone birthdays marks the start of a year that will change everything . . .
Ginger isn’t spending her 30th the way she would have planned. Tonight might be the first night of the rest of her life – or a total disaster.
Sam is finally pregnant after years of trying. When her waters break on the morning of her 40th birthday, she panics: forget labour, how is she going to be a mother?
Callie is celebrating her 50th at a big party in her Dublin home. Then a knock at the door mid-party turns her perfect life upside down . . .
Full of warmth and wisdom, this is a story about finding happiness on your own terms from international bestseller Cathy Kelly.
Right at the beginning, let me confess something. I’ll be honest with you, I was a little afraid to read this book. The last few novels by Cathy Kelly were, let’s just say, not up to my expectations and I really wanted to love “The Year that Changed Everything”. As you will see, I didn’t have to worry – it was not a quite perfect read, but it was a lovely, hooking and realistic story that I truly enjoyed. This book was almost like the old Cathy Kelly’s novels that I was devouring.
Cathy Kelly introduces us to three main characters, Sam, Callie and Ginger. They all have birthday on the same day but that’s all – they don’t know each other, they live in different places and they lead totally different lives. On the surface they’re happy and everything looks great but on their birthday their lives are going to dramatically change. Sam always wanted a baby and she and her husband have tried for so long, without success. When she finally gets pregnant she’s full of joy but also fear if everything will go smoothly. When her baby arrives on Sam’s 40th birthday, she starts to panic if she’s going to be a good mum – as her own mother was not a great role – model, leaving Sam and her sister at home and focusing on her job.
Callie is turning 50 and hundreds of people are enjoying her birthday party. She’s an ex – model with a handsome and successful man and a teenage daughter in puberty. On the day of the party the police turns up at her house and her life won’t be the same anymore.
Ginger is turning 30 and on the day of her birthday she finds herself as a chief – bridesmaid on her best friend’s Liza’s wedding. During the reception, Ginger overhears conversation that is going to change her life as well – some cruel words that nobody should never say about her.
It was really interesting to follow the three women’s lives. I think that Sam’s was the weakest subplot in this novel, her story has just seemed too flat in comparison, too under – developed, and while it is important to speak loud about such things, it just didn’t work for me in this form. I am a mother myself, I know how it is to have a post – natal depression, so maybe I should have fell for Sam more, but I really can’t put my finger why her storyline was the weakest for me. Meanwhile the other two were much more thrilling and interesting, especially Ginger’s. She was your normal girl, lovely and friendly and well, I think I could mostly relate to her and her battle with the weight and comfort eating. While usually you want to shake characters such like Ginger and tell them to get a grip, Ginger herself realized that she need to get a grip but it was not as easy as it sounds, so I just couldn’t help and fell for her. I felt sorry for her and also enraged on her behalf on few occasions, and kept my fingers crossed for her. I loved the metamorphosis and the way she was gaining confidence. It’s a pity that mostly people only see what’s on the surface and don’t look deeper because they would see what a wonderful, warm and honest person she was. I totally hoped for a very happy end for this girl! Callie was weak and she was totally under the influence of her husband Jason. He was controlling and manipulative person and it was very easy to dislike him. It took Callie some time to believe in herself again but I really enjoyed to see this journey of hers, and it was truly a very difficult journey, as she was left with nothing and she also couldn’t be sure if, after the terrible row, she has a family she can turn to.
One of the great points in the book were the background characters as a group, especially the families of our main characters. I loved to see how supporting they were and how understanding and love and friendship was so easy to spot on the pages. The characters themselves, they were a little too one – dimensional but on the whole they did work.
It took a lot of time for the stories to intertwine, and I am a little obsessed with this, I just don’t see a point in writing a story about characters that don’t know each other and have nothing in common. So it is actually not till the end that the paths of our main characters cross but they finally do and that’s what counts! My day was saved, guys. I also think that the way those three women’s stories were brought together was seamless and worked really well, even though it happened too suddenly and felt too rushed and unrealistic and I couldn’t believe that the bond between the three women formed so quickly, just like this, and that the for ever friendship accrue . But it was great to see the three going from strength to strength after initial problems and finding their peace. although I, of course, would love to see their stories interweaving a little bit earlier. But that’s me. And my obsession.
Altogether, “The Year that Changed Everything” was a really well written story. Yes, some of the chapters were totally hooking and some of them less and dragged on a little, but overall I was engrossed in the three stories. All three women were growing in confidence in this story, some of them slower, some of them quicker, and it was so uplifting to see. It was a warm, uplifting story with some poignant moments, celebrating friendship and solidarity. It’s about biting the bullet and coping with the things that life is throwing at you and not giving up. Recommended!