From the blurb:
One single mum.
One chaotic family.
One handsome stranger.
One unexpected love story.
I was delighted to receive an advance copy of this book from the publisher to review, because I love the author’s earlier works. And this one did not disappoint. In fact, if I could give it six stars out of five, I would!
This is a sublimely intelligent women’s fiction novel. It’s funny. It’s heart-warming. It’s moving. It’s poignant. It’s romantic. It’s gritty and real to the point that characters exist beyond the pages – in your mind and heart.
The story follows single mum, Jess, who’s been ever so compassionate about her ‘depressed’ husband leaving her in dire financial straits for two years while he goes home to rest with his mother; her stepson Nicky, who’s something of a loner given his eyeliner-wearing and is being horrendously bullied by the estate’s roughest family; and her daughter, Tanzie, a maths genius who’s desperate to take a scholarship on offer at a local private school with an excellent maths programme, but is facing her teens at the rough comprehensive instead given that her mother just can’t afford the £500-a-term school fees.
Then there’s Ed – in the eyes of his cleaning lady, Jess, he has it all: lots of money, great job in London, posh car, plush homes, expensive clothes and a superior attitude to match. But it soon becomes clear Ed is in real trouble. Due to a messy relationship with a money-grabbing woman, he’s facing prosecution for insider dealing, and at best a large enough fine to wipe out his fortune, at worst a lengthy jail term.
So what happens when you squeeze a desperately broke mother, a withdrawn and wounded teenager, a little girl desperate to find her way to the good school, a somewhat unwilling stranger whose life is crumbling around him and a very large, very smelly dog into a car, and send them on an excruciatingly slow journey from the south of England up to Scotland, where Tanzie can participate in a maths competition whose winnings could change her life? The answer is: love. Through the intensity of the journey, bonds are formed, barriers are shed, walls crumble, and each of the characters goes on an inner journey that will see their life change for ever.
I’ll say no more on the plot – I don’t want to spoil it for you – but suffice it to say that this is a wonderfully executed story that’s startling in its realism and power to affect. I can’t remember the last time I was quite so keen to pick up the Kindle and read some more – something about the writing style and the characters really touched me. I think the use of multiple points of view (we’re told the story from all four characters’ perspectives) really makes this book stand out, and allows us to care deeply about each character.
If you like modern women’s fiction (I don’t want to call it ‘chicklit’, because it’s not a fluffy, silly book, but a well-written one), you’ll adore this book. It’s one to keep on the shelf, and read again… and again.
The One Plus One is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.