A pleasure today, as always, to be joining Bookouture‘s Books-on-tour, this time to share my review of The Beginning and End of Us by Rose James: published on 21st November, it’s now available via Amazon for kindle and in paperback, and in other e-formats via Apple Books, Kobo and Googleplay. My thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy, provided through netgalley.
I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I willed the thought to fly to you, so you’d know how hard it was to leave you behind. That was the night I lost you, and gained myself.
Born in a honeysuckle-choked garden deep in the forest, Aphrodite – young, sensitive and beautiful – learns her true purpose in the world moments before she’s cast out of the only home she’s ever known.
Haunted by loneliness, she begins a journey to fulfill her destiny. It is a path that will lead her into the arms of four very different men – a dreamer, a fighter, an artist and a lost soul. All human, all flawed and all on their own journeys of painful self-discovery.
But could it be the secrets she left behind – and the one person she thought she had lost forever – that hold the answers to the questions she’s seeking? For while life may take you unexpected places, truth will bring you home…
An unputdownable, life-affirming epic, filled with ordinary yet extraordinary people, The Beginning and End of Us is a magical story in which you will recognise yourself, from the sweetness of a rain-drenched first kiss to the terrible pain when you realise it’s finally over.
Perfect for fans of Where the Forest Meets the Stars, The Secrets of Lost Stones and The Light We Lost.
Having decided to read this book, I’ll admit I did wobble a little when I started to see some early reviews – talking about the supernatural being at the book’s heart, the pain of young love, the episodic structure – and I did wonder if I might have made rather a mistake. But no, I really hadn’t. And I could see straight away why this book achieved its competition shortlisting on its earlier release. It might be many miles away from my usual reading in so many ways, but this book really was something quite special.
It is episodic – almost a series of short stories, each set in a clear and well-drawn location (the descriptions and general sense of place are quite excellent), but each one (and every new encounter) moving the story forward as Aphrodite follows her destiny as the Keeper of Love. I very much liked the book’s focus on music too – the whole idea of “the song” and its meaning – and the songs that feature often had me off to YouTube if they were less than familiar.
I will admit that the book almost lost me during the longer Las Vegas episode – it was rather more harrowing, and the characters introduced didn’t entirely work for me. The book’s conclusion was a little more off-the-wall than I expected too, and a long way outside my personal comfort zone – but I thought it was exceptionally well done, and the emotional touch was perfect.
This won’t be a book for everyone, and I do suspect a younger reader might be its more appropriate target audience – but it’s brave and original, beautifully written, and I rather enjoyed it.
About the author
Rose James’ debut novel, The Beginning and End of Us was shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in 2014: after a lot of rewriting and personal ups and downs, she’s delighted that it’s being published through Bookouture.
Rose has been addicted to reading and writing for almost as long as she can remember, and she’s currently working towards a Creative Writing MA (distance learning) with Lancaster University.
Among her other favourite things to do are travelling, making connections with fascinating people, and playing and writing music, all of which she thinks translate into her writing. Living in gorgeous Shropshire, she’s endlessly inspired by the beautiful landscape and historical architecture, which makes it very easy to daydream – perhaps too easy!