Ants on Peonies, Beth Thompson
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
A slight change from my usual reading genre, but it’s good to step out of the comfort zone and I enjoy trying something different. To be honest I’m still puzzled over the title – I sort of get the link but…never the less its a great story. Sometimes it seems that the perfect life is feted as something to achieve, and we feel everyone else is living it but not us. Then that leads to feelings that sap our confidence. I see this book as setting out one person’s life, but in reality this could be anyone of us, that perfect life is a myth and real life is just something we have to go with, with all its twists and turns and things beyond our control.
We read Vann’s story from her viewpoint, from the current day, and back in her past, written as if it was present time. At first I found the changing back and forth in time confusing but soon I was feeling Vann clearly from both time periods. She’s a teen, staying with her best friend for the summer, having a great time when – Bam, everything changes. She’s in hospital recovering from a terrible car accident, and the head injury gives her problems with memory, panic attacks – stuff like that in the future. While she’s recovering other things happen that change her life and friendships.
Then later when she’s married to Will with a toddler daughter Olivia she meets Jack, her first love and lover, again at a work convention. Her marriage to Will, picture perfect on the outside has its flaws, as do most in reality. Life isn’t perfect, but needs work at all parts and she and Will are floundering, trying to keep up with two careers and a baby. Children bring big changes, and when Vann breaks her wrist a minor problem becomes major. I felt for her then, its tough having to lean on others and Will just didn’t seem to see her problem. He’s a good man though, and loves her dearly, and even after she’s met Jack again she wants to make their marriage work and put Jack behind her. She does a lot of the Gone with the Wind thinking about problems tomorrow…From then its a challenge of different events and tragedies, a look at their marriage and careers, friendships both old and new, decisions to be made, and somehow Jack keeps on popping up over the years either in person, or via conversations and relatives. It’s as if Fate won’t let them part forever, but keeps throwing them back. Jack has made mistakes, starting with that fatal summer and he wants another chance. Has he left it too late though? Vann’s happily married – or is she? Will is a good man, but the past keeps tripping Vann up and forcing her into decisions.
It’s a terrific read, one I really enjoyed and made me think “what would I do?” I felt for poor Vann, that terrible accident that was the catalyst for so many effects that followed into the future for her and her best friend Ava, and Ava’s brother Jack. I wanted Jack and Vann to be together as they seemed to be fated, but then what about Will? He was a good man, and loved Vann and she him, and what about their kids? It was really interesting seeing how something so simple as the few seconds indecision that led to the accident, could have such a huge impact for years on so many people’s lives. Thats what happens in real life, and this book felt like it could easily be a true story.
There’s some resolution at the end, some heartbreak and a chink in the clouds where in my mind I’ve written a happy ending – cos I like and need them 😉 It’s ambiguous in reality, but to me it points the way I want!
Stars: five, a great read and I loved it, but for me it’s not a book I’m likely to re read.
ARC supplied by publishers.