Till We Meet Again - Lesley Pearse
Susan Wright and Beth Powell meet by chance one hot day in August 1961, when they are just ten years old, and instantly become the best of friends.
They ride their bikes, watch boats steer down the lock and have picnics in their own secret cubby, and when they aren’t together, they write each other long and detailed letters about what’s happening in their lives. But although they have spent every August together for five years, they hide personal family secrets from one another and secretly harbour small jealousies regarding one another’s seemingly perfect lives.
Eventually the holiday catch-ups cease, the letters become far and few between and the girls drift apart, due to difficult and unforeseen circumstances.
Twenty-nine years later, Susan and Beth are reunited after Susan walks into a busy doctor’s surgery and guns down the receptionist and a doctor, seemingly in cold blood. Beth, now a criminal lawyer, is assigned to defend Susan and try to find out why she became a ruthless killer, and it is then that she discovers that the murderess is in fact her old childhood friend.
As the women become reacquainted with one another, they find out about each other’s secret pasts, and their friendship becomes stronger. But as the evidence against Susan grows, Beth begins to realise that the sweet, placid Susan she once knew is not the same Susan who now sits before her, and learns that terrible circumstances have a way of changing a person for good.
What I gained from reading this book:
This novel highlights how different circumstances can change a person’s life- and not always for the better. Susan’s role as a full-time carer started when she was only sixteen years of age, and she had no time for herself, working almost twenty-four hours a day for eighteen years. This took a toll on her social life, self-esteem and mental wellbeing, and only led to more difficulties later on. While Beth didn’t face the same traumas as Susan, she had to deal with a lazy, heartless and oppressive father who physically abused his family because he had a “position to maintain”. Both of the women faced problems in their families but each came through their experiences in different ways. Likewise, Detective Inspector Roy Longhurst, who was Susan’s arresting officer, grew up in an undesirable area full of crime but he ascended above the expected norm and became an honest man and honourable police officer. This novel shows that past experiences can easily shape people into what they will become in the future, or at least have some bearing on what they will do with their lives.
The secret lives of the women, and their different perspectives of certain events are revealed gradually throughout the novel, which helps to make the storyline more riveting for the reader. Readers are also kept on their toes with unexpected twists popping up every now and then.
This is not your average crime novel, as the murderer is revealed from the start. So people who are looking for the excitement that is derived from working out who the killer is may be disappointed, but the process the author uses to withdraw Susan’s reasons for murder are befitting of any criminal fiction.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Genre: Mystery/ Crime
Recommended for: People who have lost touch with childhood friends and then met up with them again after decades of time apart.
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