Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).
So this week I’m revisiting What Burns Away by Melissa Falcon Field – first reviewed in February 2015.
Good wife, good mother. That’s all Claire Spruce is trying to be, but the never-ending snow in this new town and her workaholic husband are making her crazy. Even the sweet face of her toddler son can’t pull her out of the dark places in her head.
Feeling overwhelmed and alone, she reconnects with her long-lost high school boyfriend, Dean, who offers an intoxicating, reckless escape. But Dean’s reappearance is not a coincidence. He wants something from Claire-and she soon finds that the cost of repaying an old favor may lead to the destruction of her entire life.
What Burns Away is a story of loyalty, family, and the consequences of the past’s inevitable collision with our future.
If you’ll excuse the pun, I found this was initially a slow burner, but when it started to take off I really didn’t see what was coming.
Claire gave up a fulfilling job to become a stay at home Mum to a toddler, but is finding her new role not as satisfying as she anticipated. Add to this the fact that she has just moved miles away from family and friends for her workaholic husband’s new job and life starts to get her down. Into this void steps Dean her first boyfriend who finds her on Facebook.
The story is told via flashbacks to their teenage romance alternating past and present. When Dean turns up for real on her doorstep, Claire’s life really begins to spiral out of control. With unimaginable consequences.
While at times I lost patience with Claire, I think most of us can empathise with some of her feelings. For her, life is something she feels she’s lost control of and looking back she sees the person she was, with hopes and dreams and just wonders where that person went. The re-appearance of Dean lets her re-live her youth and become that person again, although she learns the hard way that the grass is not always greener.
I think the fact that I was really engaged by the story despite not always liking the characters is testament to how well it was written. For me Claire is very immature, her husband worthy, but selfish and Dean still the chancer he was when he was younger. This would make a good book club read as it raises issues about relationships, marriage, motherhood, careers against a background of living in the present and not the past.
As a debut novel this is a great start.