My One True North by Milly Johnson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing Date: 5th March 2020
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 496
Genre: Women’s Fiction
THE QUEEN OF FEEL-GOOD FICTION!
‘The feeling you get when you read a Milly Johnson book should be bottled and made available on the NHS’ Debbie Johnson
The brand new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew – a gorgeous read full of warmth and heartfelt emotion.
Laurie and Pete should never have met.
But fate has pushed them together for a reason.
Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners.
Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other.
From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning.
Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories.
Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything.
But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.
My One True North is a story of friendship and what love means, of secrets uncovered, teashops on corners and the northern lights.
Laurie and Pete don’t know each other but fate has it planned for their paths to cross. After losing both their partners, they meet at a small counselling group run by Molly where, over tea and cake, those two and some other people who are grieving, try to start live again. Even though finding a new partner is absolutely not an agenda for them, they find themselves drawn to each other, enjoying their company. But some awful secrets and lies are going to see the light of day that may destroy their new friendship, and more.
It is grief and sadness that is a catalyst for the story but no worries, guys – yes, the book has some very poignant moments, but I wouldn’t call it desperately sad, no, because there is this lovely, overwhelming feeling of hope, and you keep hoping, together with the characters, that no matter how bad it is at the moment, it’s going to be better. And Milly Johnson has smashingly captured it in her newest story. And let’s not forget it – the articles from the magazine Laurie works for were absolutely brilliant!
Milly Johnson can for sure write feelings and emotions, taking her readers on a rollercoaster journey of experiencing them all together with the characters. I loved the way she has shown us that grief has many faces, she has made it so real and human.
There were twists and turns aplenty in this novel, and while I enjoyed them, I also felt desperate for the author to finally bring the two characters together. It is also full of lies and secrets and it was a real joy to slowly disentangle all the threads, to peel off the layers and to have confirmed this what I thought has happened.
But now. Milly Johnson has already proven so many times that she can write great characters, and while they are really well developed in this book, I didn’t like what she has done with them. We were practically forced to like or dislike them. If the character belonged to the “good ones”, they were put on a pedestal, they didn’t have any flaws, they did all the right things. On the other hand, and it hit me right at the beginning, which confused me a little to be honest, because I thought we were supposed to like the victims of the accidents, the author immediately started to hint at things that put the characters in bad light, which means I didn’t like them. What I mean here, the author didn’t give me choice and chance to make my own mind about them. It was the same with Tara’s sister – the author has painted her in such a wrong way, making her a laughing stock, and it was the same with Pete’s dad’s girlfriend and Laurie’s boyfriend’s parents – right from the beginning they were made looking bad. And I think that such author as Milly Johnson doesn’t have to forge such moves in describing her characters, she can do much better, leaving the readers more room for imagination and making their own minds.
I also had a feeling that the book is dragging on and is repetitive, especially when the characters recounted the same events to each other. And we were so obviously pushed towards the end, towards this what is unavoidable to happen, and really, I was glad when the book has eventually ended and we really arrived to the conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely read, I love Milly Johnson’s stories, but the last third of this book felt so chopped, so abrupt and so long.
Nevertheless, this is Milly Johnson’s 17th novel already, and picking her book you can be sure that you are in safe hands, as her stories are always compelling and complex. “One True North” is about friendship, love, betrayal, grief and joy, and many more, all the feelings seamlessly weaving through the pages. Sadness is perfectly balanced with humour, the characters, especially the secondary ones, feel deep and fresh. The author isn’t shy of writing about heavier and thought – provoking issues, telling things how they are. It is heart – breaking, but it’s also uplifting and warm. Sadly, it was not my favourite read, but Milly Johnson stays at the top of my favourite authors list.