Source: Review copy, Netgalley
Publication: E-book 27 December 2018 from Orion; Paperback 18 April 2019
The rules are simple: choose the most significant moments from your relationship – one for each hour in the day.
You’d probably pick when you first met, right?
And the instant you knew for sure it was love?
Maybe even the time you watched the sunrise after your first night together?
But what about the car journey on the holiday where everything started to go wrong? Or your first proper fight?
Or that time you lied about where you’d been?
It’s a once in a lifetime chance to learn the truth.
But if you had to be completely honest with the one you love, would you still play?
For Esme and Tom, the game is about to begin. But once they start, there’s no going back . . .
It isn’t all that common to find a book that genuinely captures a relationship; it’s rarer than hen’s teeth for that book to be written by a man and from a male perspective. In Our Life in a Day, Jamie Fewery smashes it out of the park.
In an emotionally honest debut, Fewery captures beautifully all the lies we tell ourselves as we strive to be the person we think our other half wants us to be, without ever really showing who we are. Here is self-doubt; feelings of not being worthy and fear of losing what you have. Tom has found Esme and he doesn’t want to lose her. Esme made it clear, right from the beginning of their relationship, that honesty is something she values very highly in a relationship. But if honesty is the price, can Tom bring himself to pay it, knowing that at worst he may lose her and at best he will be diminished in her eyes?
Our Life in a Day is a gently paced novel, and none the worse for it, which looks at one young couple’s relationship over a 10 year period. With themes of alcohol abuse and mental health, this is a love story that feels both honest and real and does not seek to put saccharine hearts and flowers before the trials and tribulations of setting up a new home and finding a way to live together.
The format is intriguing and really helps to establish a strong narrative arc. Esme, a strong and delightful young woman who knows her own mind, has devised a game for their 10 year anniversary. The idea is that each will identify a memory for each hour of the day over a 24 hour period. That memory will be one that means something real to them both; a memory that has significance in their relationship, however small or lacking in profundity.
Thus we embark on the journey of Tom and Esme’s relationship, with each memory offered by Tom one that highlights a stage in Tom and Esme’s relationship and the secrets they keep from each other; the truths that are kept hidden and the need to be loved that shines through.
This is not a game that Tom is good at and the book looks at Tom’s struggle to come to terms with the need for real communication, honesty and openness in his relationship.
If that sounds a little bit too worthy, it isn’t at all. Rather this is a book written with a lightness of touch, a wry smile and an uplifting, understanding heart. Fewery is a class act as a writer and I thought he nailed this beautifully. Plus he made me cry.
Verdict: A beautifully written book about relationships told from a male perspective with wit and wisdom. And it’s only a little bit heart-breaking.
Jamie Fewery is an author, journalist and copywriter. He has written for the Daily Telegraph, Five Dials and Wired, and works for the London-based marketing and creative agency, Octopus Group. He lives in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire with his wife and son. OUR LIFE IN A DAY is his first novel.
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