Review - ONE STEP TOO FAR, Tina Seskis
ONE STEP TOO FAR is one of those books that make you think you need a new "category". One that emphasises the number of clues that were there, right under your nose, that you missed because you were too busy turning pages.
Right from the outset everything about Emily (soon to be Cat) Coleman (that's changed as well) is more than a bit mysterious. It's not just that she's walked away from a marriage and child - that's been known to happen. It's the idea that she adores that child, loves her husband, and the family pet into the bargain, and despite the difficulties with her dysfunctional family doesn't seem to hate them enough to want to disappear. And yet disappear she does. Packs a bag, cleans out her bank accounts, gets on a train, goes to London and as far as they are concerned vanishes. As she picks up the pieces in London, and builds a new life, moves into your classic, teenage-right-of-passage, seriously grotty share house and gets a job; she sheds her past in a way that's both planned and chillingly dispassionate, and fraught with regret and love for those she left behind.
Along the way there are snippets, hints, throw away revelations that, once this reader got towards the end of the story and full disclosure, suddenly realised were there for the understanding. Something about the pace of the book, and the sincerity of Cat/Emily cleverly threw perception off balance. Somebody this determined to walk away, seemingly with eyes wide open, but at the same time vulnerable, and obviously struggling with her decision isn't automatically an unreliable narrator after all. Mind you, along with the why possibilities that are swirling there's also a lot of doubt about what. What is it that made Emily Coleman want to disappear.
There is something there, in the hints and the clues you've just chucked in the "later" basket, that could be telling the story. If you're willing to listen to it. Or can hear above the pace, and the noise of not just her new life, but the flashbacks to her childhood, her relationship with her parents, and her problematic twin sister who is not the quiet, well-adjusted and happy person that Emily seemed to be.
If ONE STEP TOO FAR has any flaws, it's in the ending. Once the truth about Emily's disappearance comes out, and all is understood, then the book moves rapidly from a clever psychological thriller full of possibilities and thought provoking consequences into something resembling a schmaltzy romance. Reminded me of another much hyped book a year or so ago that was an absolute ripper of a thriller up until it all fell apart into the worst ending I've read in a long time. Until ONE STEP TOO FAR came along. Whilst it might be one for the "it all ends happily in the end" fans it seemed to lack bravery. Which most definitely didn't suit the character of Emily Coleman at all.
Is running away ever the answer?
An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home.
Yet one morning Emily Coleman wakes up and walks right out of her life. What makes her do it? How will she survive? And, no matter how hard she tries, can she ever really say goodbye to her past?
Emily has a secret.
No-one has ever guessed it. Will you?