Do you ever read a book by a favorite author and wonder what is going on? Cause I did that at least a dozen times while reading Meaney’s latest. I found her after Maeve Binchy died. A friend recommended her to me because she’s an author that is pretty similar to Binchy, but also has her own way of writing. There have been some misses here and there, but this one was flat out not great from beginning to end. The romance between the two leads (George and Alice) doesn’t even pop up until almost the 90 percent mark. Instead this book really just follows the ups and downs (mostly) the two of them are dealing with while living right next to each other, but somehow through chance (whatever) never laying eyes on each other.
“Life Before Us” follows George and Alice. George is a teacher dealing with co-parenting his daughter Suzi with an ex he still has feelings for. When his mother remarries and leaves them the family home, he decides to take in a lodger which leads to new things for George and Suzi. Alice is happily dating a guard, and thinking that they will get married soon. But when she gets an unexpected call, she realizes their relationship is a lie. She decides to leave Dublin for her former home and goes to work for her aunt, as well as do a column in the local paper about “everything good”. Alice starts dating again, but thinks that something is missing, and when she realizes that she’s going to need to get a “real” job, she worries that she’s going to be forced to make a decision she does not want to.
I changed the synopsis a lot from what it shows on Goodreads because I am realizing that the versions of the book don’t align. One talks about three facts that are important to know about George and Alice. The other one talks about missed meetings and breaks down some things further. No, I don’t know why the two synopsis don’t match.
The two leads are just boring. I wish it was not true, but they are. My God George goes on and on about his ex who broke up with him about 11 years ago. And then he has some kind of Eureka moment near the 80 percent match about her. I just didn’t ever really see what his mother or he was seeing. But whatever. I was sadly more interested in George’s lodger, Jack’s story then George.
Alice….how she gets introduced may not work for all readers. But the stuff she does after made me really tired of her. She tries to justify something that I went ugh. And then she dates someone else she feels eh about, but is a jerk to them in certain parts of the book. I once again felt more interested in her aunt, her cousin in Italy, etc. than her.
The other characters are just there to advance plots. There are some interesting things, but unlike with previous Meaney books I have read, she doesn’t make everyone come alive at all for me while reading. Meaney usually does a great job of shifting back and forth between her characters (main) and secondary. One of the reasons why I loved Maeve Binchy’s books. But this one felt like a chore after a while.
The writing/flow was not good in this one. It just goes on and on.
The setting of the village was confusing. I still don’t get how Alice/George kept missing each other. And I think in the end that George’s ex and daughter live next to him? I don’t know. I gave up trying to figure out locations.
The ending should have made me happy, but I felt like too much was left out for me to care even a little.
I read this for Cannonball Read 14, bingo square:
- Heart: Could be about emotions or something expected to elicit big emotions; could be about something you love; could be about heart disease.
- This book definitely deals with emotions. George has a lot concerning his daughter and ex. Alice has a lot due to the end of a relationship she thought would lead to a marriage and family. Oh and someone does die of a heart attack in this one, so there’s that too.