“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Hello fellow bookworms and blog followers,
I am so sorry about the lack of reviews! I promise you all I’m getting back on it like Sonic!
At the beginning of The Other Side of the Story, there’s this quote:
“There are three sides to every story. Your side, their side, and the truth.” Anon.
This quote is one I’ve heard many times and a quote that I think we can all relate too.
Now lets give you a bit of background so this book is all about crossed women, crossed lines and crossed swords. Let me explain. We meet three main characters. Jojo, Gemma and Lily.
Firstly we meet Gemma. The unknown. Gemma used to be Lily’s best friend – until Lily ‘stole’ Anton from her (or so she wants us to believe). As her family falls apart around her, she turns to her friend in America, Susan, in the comfort of emails. But all of that is about to change for Susan had an idea.
Gemma’s emails are being turned into a book! And who is her agent? Well no other than Jojo Harvey…Lily’s agent. The very person Gemma despises the most.
“Without an agent, Lily’s career would be toast; I could make it happen.”
Gemma then meets Owen, whilst she is only looking for a good time, Owen seemingly has other ideas.
“Because I’m your boyfriend.’
I laughed again. ‘Are you?’
‘You’re not my boyfriend, you’re my…you’re my hobby.”
As the story progresses and Gemma’s mum also meets Owen, a bigger picture has been laid out to her. Marriage.
“Marry Owen? I didn’t think so. How could I marry Owen when I was going to get back with Anton?”
Now lets be clear here. As far as Gemma knows, Lily and Anton are still happily together. They have a daughter. How misguided can you get?!
Gemma reminds me of the typical girl I knew at school. Childish. Feels as though the world has wronged her and owes her one. That she has never done anything wrong. She is the innocent party. She is beautiful and amazing. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be with her?
See what I mean? Her chapters, although well written, are almost too well written because they make me despise her as a person. Once you finished her chapters you’re almost relieved because it’s so frustrating. It’s like you want to scream at her and be like “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
We then meet Jojo. The Agent. A high flying one at that; in the literary world and she is on the up. Not everything is plain sailing for she has just jumped into bed with her married boss, Mark.
“I should never have started this thing with him…I could be in love with someone else right now, someone who wasn’t married. Well, shoulda woulda coulda…”
Now Jojo is something else ladies and gents. An American beauty with an air of confidence that surrounds her and her job. You can see why she’s so successful. She was also one of those people which you could have a conversation with and you suddenly feel amazing then when you realise you are you, you feel less so. Obviously this is through no fault of her own but I have had countless experiences of that feeling. Amazing when you feel it but the low is oh so low.
“While they were with her, they saw through the advertising industry’s lies and believed that size didn’t matter, that it was intangibles like…confidence that counted.”
Jojo is also smart. She can see sexism in the industry a mile off and she is ready to make sure that women are taken notice of too. She wants to be a partner of Lipman Haigh.
“Olga Fisher was in her late forties, single, wore pearls and elegantly draped scarves and because she negotiated good terms for her authors she was known as a ball breaker. If she were a man…they’d call her a ‘great agent’.”
All this successfulness is somehow hampered by a massive distraction. Mark. Her boss. Her lover. Only things are getting serious. Could there be even the slightest chance that Mark may leave his wife Cassie for her?!
“And she understood that sometimes it’s too painful for people to see what’s under their noses. That hurt. She didn’t want to cause Cassie – anyone – pain.”
Well I’ll let you find that out for yourselves.
Jojo’s chapters are by far the best. She is strong and independent and determined. She’s good at what she does and reaps those rewards. Yes she makes mistakes along the way but who doesn’t? She is successful. Her chapters also have plenty of humour strung in throughout and keeps you very entertained.
Now for our final character…
Then we meet Lily. The bestseller. Lily is sweet-natured, she is also Jojo’s client. With her first novel a success, she and partner Anton celebrate by spending the advance for her next book…then the unthinkable happens. Writers block.
“Even though I made my choice, I shall never forgive myself. This sounds wildly melodramatic, I know, but I mean it simply as a statement of fact. There are many times – to this day – when I wish I had never met him. It’s the most dreadful thing I’ve ever done, and even now, though we’re together and have Ema, frequently I find myself in the middle of ordinary stuff, making Ema’s bottle or washing my hair or whatever, and realise that I’m still waiting for a catastrophe. Building one’s happiness on someone else’s misery is no foundation for long-term stability. Anton says I have Catholic guilt. But I wasn’t brought up Catholic – apparently I don’t have to be.”
Yes you guessed it. This is the same Lily and Anton which Gemma absolutely despises. For the initial chapters we believe Gemma. But then we reach Lily’s chapters where the truth of the matter arises.
“About Anton. The most important thing to remember is that I am not a seductress. To be honest, I’m the least fatale of femmes. If there was a competition, I would come so last a new category would have to be invented specially for me.”
Now of course, who’s not to say that there may be some truth in both of their tales? That maybe something got twisted along the way. Ultimately you can’t stand in true loves way. I mean yes it must have hurt like hell for Gemma to hear and to see it, her best friend and her ex. Yet can you still not be happy for them?
“I tried to stay away from him. Goodness knows I tried. But meeting him had shifted my centre of gravity and any element of choice had been removed…On three occasions we decided to brazen it out and go to Dublin to tell Gemma and twice I chickened out.
It was impossible. I was prepared to live without Anton rather than destroy Gemma.
But after a few hours of Anton’s absence my resolve fell apart and the day eventually came when we got on the plane. I cannot think about what followed. Not even now. But I will never forget the last thing Gemma said to me. ‘What goes around comes around and remember how you met him because that’s how you’ll lose him.”
As Lily’s chapters unravel we journey through her highs and lows. Her first book, a best seller, reaping the rewards and buying their dream house. Only for her second book to free fall in dramatic fashion and with no continuation of her publishing contract, it looks as though that’s the end of her career and with it…the money. Combine that with the terrifying news that the person who despises you the most is writing a book and I think Lily has every right to be nervous!
“Gemma was out to get me. Until this point I will admit to being paranoid with regard to her, my guilt rendered me so. But I was not imagining this.”
But is Gemma’s book really about Lily and Anton…naming and shaming? We also see Lily struggle with Anton, to believe in not only herself but their future as a couple.
Lily by far is the most relatable of the characters. Just a good person caught in a sticky situation. The highs and lows are relatable. The relationship troubles and the self esteem issues she has can relate to many a person of any age.
This book is good. Well written and in parts, funny. This isn’t a book I couldn’t put down. Instead it was a book you could pick up at any point, whenever you felt like it and you knew exactly where you were. No cliffhangers. Nothing to keep you on the edge of your seat. But still a fun read!
If you liked the sound of The Other Side of the Story and you think it’s your cup of tea then follow the link below to buy it on Amazon!
Look out for my next review and until next time,