It’s takes one minute to change everything…
Vivienne Shager has it all. A highflying job. A beautiful apartment. Friends whose lives are as perfect as her own. But on the afternoon of her 27th birthday, Vivi has a heart attack.
Now Vivi’s life shrinks back to how it begun, as she moves back to the small seaside town she grew up in. With her time running out, there is one thing she wants to know the truth about.
Some secrets are best left in the past…
Thirty years earlier, Shelley’s family home, Deerwood farm, bursts full of love and happiness. But one family member has hidden a secret for all these years. Until Vivi comes home demanding answers, and it takes just a moment to unravel the lie at their heart of their lives…
Vivienne (Vivi) Shaeger has everything. At 27 she has secured a great job as a city lawyer, a wonderful home and everything seems perfect as she sets out to enjoy her 27th birthday lunch in a luxurious setting with her friends from Law School. Just one minute later, that life is in tatters.
In the middle of lunch, Vivi suffers a major heart attack. As a child she had undergone heart surgery for a condition that was unlikely to give her any future ill-effects; sadly that has turned out to not be the case and Vivi quickly finds herself on the transplant list awaiting a donor heart. From being girl about town to virtually housebound in what seems like the blink of an eye.
She reluctantly gives up her perfect home and moves back in with her mother and step-father in her home town of Kesterly. Having long left the rural life of her childhood behind, she’s saddened to find herself back there, leaving her high-flying city life behind her. On the other hand she’s happy to see more of her brother and spend more time with her old best friend Michelle, and her growing family, despite the circumstances.
A quick flashback to 1984 and we meet Jack and Shelley – a young couple settling into an inherited farm in Kesterly, Jack setting up as a local vet, and the couple determined to make the farm a going concern and raise their young family there. But what is the connection to Vivi?
There are intertwining elements between Vivi and Shelley which develop nicely throughout the story, and running right through the novel is Vivi’s plight; a young woman desperately adapting to a new lifestyle that she never expected, nor wanted, and spending each day waiting to find out if she will receive the transplant that could save her life.
The negative points: I felt that the story was a little slow and repetitive in places. I very nearly gave up early on because of the over-gushing descriptions of Vivi and her wonderful figure/hair/lifestyle in the first couple of chapters. It just grated on me, everyone is just a bit too nice, revenge doesn’t exist, and when people meet for the first time it’s like they’ve known each other forever; It’s all a bit too fairy tale and unrealistic for this old cynic.
However once I got further into the book, I found the theme of organ transplantation very poignant, as I have two friends who have both been in need of an organ transplant. One was lucky enough to receive a donor organ and is doing extremely well several years later. The other was not so lucky, and sadly died battling his condition. I really hope that this book can bring organ donation into the forefront of the minds of more people, especially following events in the latter part of the book when you really feel the futility of so many suitable donor organs not being donated because families either don’t know what the person wanted, or even choose to ignore the wishes of their loved one.
This novel is not really to my taste but I appreciated the amount of research that has clearly gone into researching Vivi’s heart condition, and the sheer desperation felt when there are perfectly good donor hearts going into the ground or the furnace that could be saving lives. The background story was interesting and had a twist that I didn’t see coming – there was a nice bit of misdirection that took me down a different route while I was focusing on Vivi – that was well done and took me by surprise.
Thanks to Harper Collins & Netgalley, and the Pigeonhole for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.