Every vow you break by Julia Crouch

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Candice:  Phil and I always like to do some research on the people we are going to interview so a few weeks ago I bought Cuckoo and Every vow you break by Julia Crouch.  He got Cuckoo, I got Every Vow.

Getting together a week later I asked how he was getting on with the book,  “I dont really like it, I have to admit.”  I was surprised as I was really enjoying mine, but wondered if it was a girl/boy thing.

Every Vow is about a family who have moved to Upstate New York for a summer as the father is an actor in a play.  Bringing with them two teenagers, a small child and the memories of an unwanted baby just recently terminated, the message at the start is this family is not in a good way.  The house they are to stay in is dirty, the father Marcus is only interested in his career, leaving his wife Lara to pick up the pieces, entertain the children and try and find something to do in a town that is more of a ghost town.

Lara stumbles on a secret, Stephen, the once love of her life and now Hollywood actor, is holed up in the town to escape a stalker.  No one is supposed to know where he is so she and her brood spend their days in his amazing home, while Marcus gets further and further away in the pursuit of his dwindling acting career.

The story twists and turns as things start to happen to the family: clothes get taken from the laundrette, they find out the house they are staying in has a dark secret and Lara begins to pull away from her husband.

I wont give away the ending but I thought it was clever and obvious but not obvious.

To book tackles some hard topics: abortion, the realisation that you may have married the wrong man, murder and even incest.  Though that last item is only touched on as it means that Olly, the teenage son, is in the right place at the right time to protect his twin sister, Bella, I would have like to have seen it explored more as I think its unfair poor Bella has to hide that horrible secret.

Having now read Cuckoo, I can see what Phil means.  Though in the same style, Cuckoo is a harder book to read as the characters are all unlikeable.  In Every Vow I wanted Lara to get out of this stuffy marriage and her situation, where as in Cuckoo I couldnt understand why the main female character would put up with an overbearing husband and controlling friend.  I can also see why they might be more ‘female’ books as both protagonists are very led by their children (something neither he not I understand) and particularly in Cuckoo the baby seems to be the centre of the universe.

Cuckoo was Julia’s first book, Every Vow her second.  Perhaps this is showing how her writing has developed from book 1 to 2 as she has made the characters more rounded and put a bit of heart into book 2.

Though we are well on our way to getting the Novel back out there, and would like to think its a well written piece, I think this is the case with all writers.  The more you write, the more developed your style becomes.  Just thinking back to the Harry Potter books, the first two or three are slim, more child friendly novels, and then they get more heavily plotted and thicker as JK’s style develops.

By the time we get to book seven it will be Booker prize winning….. or just a really good holiday read!

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Every vow you break by Julia Crouch

  1. Julia’s books were the discussion over nearly three-quarters of a vast basket of curly fres a couple of weeks ago!

    To be fair, Cuckoo IS a good book if you like the genre. The plot has twists and turns.I didn’t spot the ending until I got there, it’s just that the main character anoyed the heck out of me. Thinking about it (I’ve done a lot of this, more than I’d do for a book I really enjoyed. Is this a good thing?), the real problem for me was the husband. Self-centred and more like another child to be looked after, I couldn’t see how he was still married unless it was to someone who wanted to be a doormat. Maybe that’s the point. If he had been in any way normal, pleasent or considerate, the “cuckoo” wouldn’t have been able to do what she did. It’s also set in the sort of Guardian Middle-class world where arty types make shedloads of cash for very little effort and then price the locals out of a quaint country place to go and “find themselves”. I might be midde-class enough to be able to follow the plotline in The Archers but it’s alien even to me.

    “Every vow” has a lot of similarities. The main character is a woman who has a self-centred husband who behaves like a big kid. I didn’t like him much either so was feeling a lot of deja vu as I started reading. The thing is, there are some characters I did like too. There were also more angles to the text. We see things from both mother and daughters viewpoints. Being set in the USA helped too. There was a special atmosphere that came through and taking the characters out of their comfort zone did them a favour.

    The big surprises come at the end. The plotting is excellent and as Candice says, everything comes together. The last few scenes could be very Tom Sharpe with an over-the-top ridiculousness if you were writing comedy. As it was, everyone appears at the right time for very good reasons that make complete sense so the whole thing is beleivable. There’s a definite sense of satisfaction for the reader in the ending which leaves you with a good feeling about the book. I read it because I wanted to get to the end and find out what happened in great chunks.

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