EXCERPT: ‘I’ve no car and no way of getting around.’
‘But I have a car,’ said Grace. ‘And I have an itinerary. I also have more clues to be deciphered. We’ve already seen that two heads are better than one. Why don’t you come with me?’
‘On all your stops? Through France and Spain?’ Deira looked at her in astonishment.
‘Why not?’ said Grace. ‘To tell you the truth, you’d be doing me a favour. My elder daughter thinks I’m off my rocker doing this trip on my own. If I tell her I have company, she might stop worrying about me and asking me to share my location with her so she can check up on me without me even realizing it.’
‘I’m not sure . . .’
‘We still haven’t worked out the full La Rochelle clue,’ said Grace. ‘Besides, I’d love your company.’
‘Why not?’ repeated Grace.
Why not indeed, thought Deira. Why not do something even madder than her original plan and travel with a woman she hardly knew, following a treasure hunt set by a dead man?
ABOUT ‘THE WOMEN WHO RAN AWAY’: Deira is setting out on the holiday she’d planned with her long-term partner Gavin… only she’s on her own. Gavin will not be amused when he finds out she’s ‘borrowed’ his car, but since their brutal break-up Deira’s not been acting rationally. Maybe a drive through beautiful France will help her see things differently…Grace is also travelling alone, each stage of her journey outlined in advance by her late husband. Ken was head of the household when he was alive, and it seems he’s still in charge. His last decision was a surprise – could there be more surprises to come? There’s only one way to find out, galling though it is to dance again to Ken’s tune…Thrown together by chance, Deira and Grace are soon motoring down the French highways, sharing intriguing stories of their pasts, as they each consider the future…
MY THOUGHTS: Don’t you just love that cover! Especially now when we’re still all restricted to armchair travel, I can just imagine strolling through that open gate, feel the sand between my toes and the water lapping at my ankles.
Unfortunately I liked the cover better than the story. I found it difficult to readily connect with both main characters, but Deira in particular. It could be an age thing, but I don’t really think so. I enjoyed the story, but never became fully invested in it. I did love the travelling aspect, and O’Flanagan’s descriptive powers are excellent. I loved learning about the history of some of the locations Grace and Deira travelled to and the references to famous historical literary and artistic characters. I found the map coordinates at the beginning of the chapters frustrating. I would rather have had dates and locations.
The idea behind the plot is excellent. It covers some serious subjects: terminal illness, grief, loss, suicide, and infidelity. But don’t go thinking that this novel is full of doom and gloom, because it isn’t. It is a novel of hope, friendship and personal growth.
I’m not quite sure why I didn’t love this. I usually do love O’Flanagan’s books. This is a nice, quick, easy read, just not one that left me enchanted and missing the characters when I closed the covers.
‘One thing I’ve learned about life is that no matter how shitty a time you are having, it does pass. And then you look back and say, that was a terrible week, or month, or year. But you’ve got to remember that it’s only a tiny bit of your whole life. It’s important to put it into perspective.’
THE AUTHOR: As you can see, a Dubliner all my life. My parents owned a grocery shop in the Iveagh Markets, in the Liberties area of the city and I guess city blood runs through my veins.
As a child I enjoyed reading and telling stories and everyone thought that I end up in a job which had something to do with books and literature. But though I applied for a job in the library all of the job offers I got were in commerce.
I turned down lots of them before my mother accepted one for me (I was on holiday at the time). It was in the Central Bank of Ireland and that’s how my career in financial services began.
But I still loved reading and writing (which I did in my spare time) and I desperately wanted to write my own book. I guess I never quite got over the fact that I was never offered the library job! In my thirties I decided that it was now or never and I sat down, stuck Chapter 1 on a page, and started. I wrote the whole thing before sending it off.
I was offered a publishing deal (with no advance) by an Irish company but only if I wrote a different book! So back to the drawing board, I started again. It was another two years before it was published. It wasn’t until I’d written a few books and was offered a contract (this time with an advance!) from another publisher that I felt able to give up my trading job and write full time. So, even though it took a long time, I eventually realised my dream of being a full-time writer.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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