Sunday 8 May 2016

Now & Again by Charlotte Rogan

For Maggie Rayburn, wife, mother and secretary at a munitions plant, life is pleasant, predictable and secure. When she finds proof of a high-level cover-up on her boss's desk, she impulsively takes it, turning her world upside down. Propelled by a desire to do good - and a new-found taste for excitement - Maggie starts to see injustice everywhere. Soon, her bottom drawer is filled with 'evidence', her town has turned against her, and she must decide how far she will go for the truth.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Captain Penn Sinclair's hasty orders have disastrous results. In an attempt at atonement, he reunites with three survivors to expose the truth about the war.

Now & Again by Charlotte Rogan was published by Fleet on 5 May 2016.
Now & Again is the author's second novel. I read and reviewed her first, The Lifeboat, on Random Things back in 2012.

The reader is introduced to Maggie and her family and colleagues at what appears to be a turning point in her life. Until now, she's led a very normal, everyday, quite secure life, but within the first few pages of Now & Again, she discovers something and does something that will turn her whole world upside down.

Charlotte Rogan writes with precision and sharpness that is quite enthralling at times, her characterisation is spot on and for me, it is her exploration of the moral dilemmas faced by her characters that stand out.  Maggie has worked in the munitions factory for years, she only has a few years to serve and then she'll reap the benefits of long-term service, with the pension and financial comfort that will bring. However, she seems to, all of a sudden have realised that munitions actually do kill people. Added to the discovery of evidence of wrong-doings, found on her boss's desk, and Maggie makes decisions that shock everyone who knows her.

Meanwhile, a group of US soldiers, veterans of the Iraq war are also trying to expose horrific cover-ups and social injustices heaped upon them, and their people by those in power. These physically and mentally scarred men, with their horrendous experiences and memories sit well alongside the strong and determined Maggie who is compelled to carry on with her exposures despite what it means for her as a member of such a tight-knit community. Even when she takes another job, in the local prison, she cannot help but become embroiled in her imagined injustices concerning certain prisoners.

Now & Again is a complex and multi-layered story, with many characters and multiple themes. Maggie is an interesting character who will infuriate most readers at times, but it is difficult to dislike her, or not to empathise with her.  For me, Captain Penn Sinclair and his group of veterans were more rounded and believable characters, and their part of the story was extremely well told.

Now & Again is longer, with more characters than Rogan's The Lifeboat. She has taken on a subject that it is clear that she feels strongly about. I think I preferred The Lifeboat, but I did really enjoy Now & Again, but would have loved a stronger conclusion to Maggie's quest. There were times that Maggie, and the story felt a little uncontrolled. However, I do enjoy Charlotte Rogan's writing very much and would recommend Now & Again to other readers.

My thanks to Ursula from Fleet who sent my copy for review.

Charlotte Rogan studied architecture at Princeton University, graduating in 1975.
She is also the author of The Lifeboat, which was nominated for the Guardian first book award, the international IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and has been translated into twenty-six languages.
She lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Find out more about the author and her work at
Follow her on Twitter @charlotte_rogan


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