Harper Collins, £10.99
'Where Rainbows End', the second novel from up and coming Irish author Cecelia Ahern, is a tender yet gripping tale filled with 'what ifs' and an overwhelming reliance on fate to intervene where human nature bluntly refuses to.
We meet Rosie Dunne as a feisty seven year old, who has taken to passing notes to her best friend Alex in class. A nightmare for her teacher and her parents, her strong will and sheer stubbornness are evident from the outset. As the story develops it is predominantly Rosie's tale that we hear, both through her own eyes and those who matter most to her.
Her life story is one with many twists, filled with bravery when needed, fear of the unknown when making life decisions, and a refusal to take control of her own destiny. We follow Rosie through all the important moments in her life, from her graduation ball, onto the birth of her equally strong-willed daughter, through her hilarious working life, and her fraught marriage. The characters we meet along the way, for the most part, develop with the story, their personalities realistically developed through the years that follow.
In particular Rosie's relationship with her best friend Alex is explored wonderfully as the pair grow old together, living separate, yet forever intertwined, lives. With the birth of Rosie's daughter Katie we see history repeat itself, with some nice attention to detail in linking the relationships that develop in both women's lives.
What is unusual about 'Where Rainbows End' is that the story unfolds entirely through written dialogue between the main characters. The decisive events in the book are described in everyday conversation within letters and emails, with the sending and receiving of postcards and birthday cards used to indicate the passing of time. It is a style that is refreshing and very readable. Reliant on the strength of the characters, this technique doesn't let Ahern down. Her writing style is relaxed, with a decent attempt made to put herself in the mindset of the varying age groups represented.
More engaging than her first novel, evidently focused and quite addictive, 'Where Rainbows End' will keep you reading eagerly, right up to the final page. And although there is a certain inevitability about the proceedings, the journey is a very pleasant one.