It's Zoe's wedding day. She's about to marry Jamie, the love of her life, when a phone call brings new that her mum Gina has been arrested. Zoe must make an impossible decision: should she leave her own wedding to help?
Zoe hasn't seen Gina for years, blaming her for the secret that she's been running from ever since she was sixteen. Now, Gina is back in her life, but she's very different to the mum Zoe remembers. Gina is losing her memory.
As she struggles to cope with Gina's illness, can Zoe face up to the terrible events of years ago and find her way back to the people she loves?
A Life Without You is a stirring and poignant novel about the power of the past - and the possibilities of the future.
A Life Without You by Katie Marsh is published on 14 July 2016 in paperback by Hodder and is the author's second novel. I read and reviewed her first book, My Everything, here on Random Things in December last year.
Last year I was absolutely thrilled by Katie Marsh's first novel, My Everything. It is a story that has stayed with me ever since and I've been so looking forward to reading her new novel, but just a little nervous too .... what if I didn't love it as much?
Author Miranda Dickenson said that My Everything was 'devastatingly good'. It is, and so is A Life Without You; it's a story that will evoke every emotion that lurks within your heart and pull each string firmly. Devastating is the perfect word, yet it is also beautiful and passionate and exquisitely written.
Two stories blended into one told with ease. There's the unfolding drama of Zoe and her 'almost wedding' with Jamie, the love of her life, her rock and soulmate. There's also the story of Zoe's life, told through letters written by her mother Gina, starting on her first birthday, right through to the present day.
The story opens as Zoe is preparing to marry Jamie, when she receives the phone call that will change the course of her life, readers can't help but wonder why she decides to abandon the fabulous Jamie and rush off to help her mother who she hasn't seen for years. There are clues that Zoe wasn't completely sure that marrying Jamie was the right thing to do though, and the phone call becomes a way out for her. It also opens up the box of memories stored within her heart that are painful and distressing and hard to handle.
A Life Without You is a warm and witty, yet at times it is harrowing and ferociously sad. Gina's steady descent into the grip of early-onset Alzheimer's is portrayed with thoughtful sensitivity, yet does not shy away from the painful realities that Gina, Zoe and their extended friends and family have to face.
Katie Marsh has expertly captured the effects that dementia has on Gina, and the terrifying and devastating ripple effect that cause so much pain and heartbreak to her loved ones. The flashes of recognition from Gina that gradually diminish; the hopelessness felt by Zoe; the feelings of anger and of sadness.
The complexities of the mother and daughter relationship are examined and the damage that can be caused, long-term by events of the past and how they are handled are at the forefront of the story, Once the reader discovers the hurts and assumed betrayals from the past, they can go back to the first chapter and understand why Zoe took the decision that she did.
I am beginning to run out of words of praise for A Life Without You, and I want everyone to go out and buy a copy, and read it. It is absolutely wonderful.
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.
Katie lives in south-west London with her family. Before being published she worked in healthcare, and her novels are inspired by the bravery of the people she met in hospitals and clinics across the country.
Her first novel, My Everything, was picked by The Evening Standard as one of the hottest summer debuts of 2015, and her second, A Life Without You is out on 15 July 2015.
She loves strong coffee, the feel of a blank page and stealing her husband's toast.
When not writing she spends her time in local parks trying and failing to keep up with her daughter's scooter.
For more information about Katie, visit her website www.katie-marsh.com
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @marshisms