The BBC produces a show called Meet The Author; I think it airs on their news channel, but I watch it through On Demand from time to time. What usually happens is that I start watching, get bored by what the presenter and author are discussing, and switch it off. One week though, Tina Seskis was on there and I was instantly hooked.
This book is unusual because it was originally self-published. Seskis wrote the book, and when she was turned down by several publishers she decided to self-publish. It got to number 35 in the Kindle charts, and Seskis carried copies of the book everywhere with her, asking friends and acquaintances to read it. Eventually Penguin realised it was actually quite a good book, and re-launched it. Hence the stint on Meet The Author.
I started this book while we were away last week, and found it really hard to put down. It starts with the protagonist, Emily Coleman, walking away from her life without explaining why. The chapters are quite short, and alternate between Emily's current life, written in the first person, and the lives of various other characters (her husband, her sister, her parents, her new housemate), told in the third person. Some of the chapters are only a page long, which makes it perfect for reading if you only have a little time... but also infuriating for keeping you up half the night: "I'll just read one more tiny little chapter..."
I was gripped by this book within the first couple of pages, and it did not disappoint. Seskis says she's not yet had anyone come to her and say they'd guessed the twist before they got to it. Personally, I spent the whole book wondering what the hell had caused this woman to walk away from her life... and when that point in the book crept up on me with little warning, I was gobsmacked.
I have to say, the finale that took place after the twist felt a little weak to me; all of the loose ends were tied up, but in a bit of an odd fashion. Then again, I've no idea how it could possibly have been improved - I think perhaps once you've had a twist like that, there's nowhere else to go.
This book is amazing purely because I didn't expect any of what happened. Unlike many other books, where you read the first two pages and think "ah, I know where this is going!" I had no clue. And I cared what happened. I actually think this book would make a great film... except I've no idea how they could possibly maintain the guessing until the twist was revealed.
This is one of those books which, when you finally finish it and put it down, leaves you feeling bereft. I've been wandering around thinking "what can I read now?"
The great news is that Seskis' second novel is out already - and that the third novel is apparently a story involving the main characters from her first and second ones. I love when authors have their characters float between books; Harlan Coben is a great one for doing that!
At the time of writing, One Step Too Far was priced at £3.85 on Amazon, though the book jacket has it priced at £7.99.
NB I reviewed this book because I really liked it; this was not in conjunction with anyone else, and all views and opinions are my own.