I was lucky enough to win a copy of It’s Who We Are and gave the book 4*out of 5*
Five friends in their fifties find themselves dealing with unforeseen upheaval as they uncover long-hidden and devastating family secrets. Meanwhile, the world around them seems to be spinning out of control.
The events of It’s Who We Are take place between October 2016 and June 2017, against a backdrop of all the political uncertainty and change in the UK, Europe and America.
The story is set in East Anglia, London and Ireland, and is about friendship, kindness and identity. Most importantly, it highlights how vital it is to reach for what enhances rather than depletes you
This a contemporary read set against the detailed background of political upheaval, both through Brexit, the Trump presidency and economical uncertainly. And there are some wonderful descriptions of the city of London and County Kerry in Ireland that give a great sense of place and the portrayal of the homes and work places belonging to the characters are really well written.
I did like the author’s easy to read style of writing and, right from the start of the novel, became engrossed in the plot which centres initially on the lives of five characters in their middle-ages:
Wendy, a career woman, on the brink of the disintegration of her marriage with elderly parents and two sons who are making their own way in life.
Julian, a single gay man, struggling with his career as a performer ans singer.
Philip, whose uncertainty with his marriage leads him to take a younger lover and is convinced he need to make radical changes to his life. His elderly mother is a vibrant active woman who owns an exclusive hotel in the West of Ireland.
Araminta, lonely and struggling with life in general,with an elderly father in a nursing home.
Michael, an Irish Catholic priest, lonely and questioning his faith.
All wonderfully rounded characters, with many layered personalities, whose both spoken and internal dialogue distinguishes them on the page.
The book, initially split into short sections that enlarge on, and give insight to, the lives of each of the characters is fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two thirds of It’s Who We Are. And I gradually realised that, somehow, they were all connected.And, indeed, friendships were formed.
And it was at this point I needed to suspend disbelief; all the characters, in one way or another, had shared histories or once removed coincidental relationships with one another. And, in a few short months, formed extremely close friendships to the exclusion of any other acquaintances. The descriptions of the way these characters interacted was extremely well written but it did seem to be an extremely insular portrayal.
I don’t give away spoilers in my reviews so I won’t dwell on the revelation that the plot then pivots on. But it is following that disclosure that, for me, the coincidences became too many and too easy. I bow to the author’s knowledge as a trained psychotherapist; her obvious expertise on issues of personal identity. And I did appreciate the wonderful balance between sadness and loss, juxtaposed with joy and contentment instilled in her writing. But, as the book progressed through the last third of the story, I just felt it was both a little rushed and that all the issues were tied up too neatly.
All that said, I will reiterate that I did like Christine Webber’s style of writing and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read It’s Who We Are. Despite the points I made above I did enjoy the read and would recommend this novel.
One last observation; I love the cover; the slightly out-of-focus head-shots, the seascape,the idea of the freedom of flight through the images of the birds, the mutes colours. Wonderful!
About the Author:
After a break of 29 years to write over a dozen non-fiction titles, Christine Webber returned to writing fiction in 2016. The result was a novel called ‘Who’d Have Thought It?’ which is a romantic comedy about the change and challenges we encounter in mid-life. ‘Who’d Have Thought It?’ is now also available as an audio book – both in digital and CD format.
Christine is a former singer, TV presenter, agony aunt, columnist and Harley Street psychotherapist.
Nowadays she is focusing on fiction – though she still pops up on the radio from time to time.