Author: Claire Varley
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Release Date: 1st August 2015
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
I'm very happy to be part of the blog tour for The Bit in Between. Today I have a review, but be sure to come back on the 10th when I have a guest post from Claire.
You can see the rest of the stops on the campaign over on Claire Varley's blog. Please do check them out.
Synopsis:There are seven billion people in the world. This is the story of two of them.
After an unfortunate incident in an airport lounge involving an immovable customs officer, a full jar of sun-dried tomatoes, quite a lot of vomit, and the capricious hand of fate, Oliver meets Alison. In spite of this less than romantic start, Oliver falls in love with her.
With no other place to be, Alison follows Oliver to the Solomon Islands where he is planning to write his much-anticipated second novel. But as Oliver's story begins to take shape, odd things start to happen and he senses there may be more hinging on his novel than the burden of expectation. As he gets deeper into the manuscript and Alison moves further away from him, Oliver finds himself clinging to a narrative that may not end with 'happily ever after'.
Review:Oliver is heading home to Melbourne for his grandmother's funeral. Alison has had enough of her boyfriend and is heading back to the family farm. After meeting in a Malaysian airport, they assume they will go their separate ways, but it seems fate has other plans. Oliver offers Alison a lift to the train station. She misses her train and decides not to go home and soon after is joining him on his trip to the Solomon Islands where he plans to write his second novel.
Having lost some creative control with his first book, Oliver is determined to end this one the way he believes is right. But when things start happening the way Oliver is writing them, the responsibility becomes overwhelming and Oliver and Alison's whirlwind relationship may not be able to take the strain.
One one level we have a traditional love story - boy meets girl, they fall in love and head off to an Island paradise together. On another level we get a strong social commentary on how very different life is in the developed world to the developing world. And then there are slight paranormal elements. Can someone determine the fate of others, or are they simply attuned to what's going on around them?
One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is that we are given insight into several minor players, extras that would receive no credit in a film, through glimpses into their point of view. This is not a technique that I've seen before and it really made the novel for me. There's a real difference between knowing what a character is feeling, and knowing why they are feeling it and how they came to be in that situation.
I liked that Oliver and Alison's story didn't follow a tradition route. The Solomon Islands setting was very real for me, especially with the inclusion of some Pijin phrases.
The Bit in Between offers more depth than your average romance novel, and will leave you with a bit to think about.