Review: The No-Show, by Beth O'Leary
Gosh darn it, Beth O'Leary has done it again - I think this is her best novel since The Flatshare (which I have raved about and will not do so again; just everyone go do yourself a favour and read that book right fucking now). This book was a lovely, heartfelt, heartbreaking novel of love and loss and redemption and growing as a person, and how grief shapes things and people in strange, new ways. I basically just spent the last 60 pages of this book hideously sobbing in my bathtub.
This is not a traditional romance, or even a traditional romcom. It's the story of three women, Siobhan, Miranda, and Jane, and their relationships with the same man, Joseph Carter, and how those relationships layer onto each other and impact each other. It's presented as 'three women get stood up by the same man' and is a bit gimmicky, until the big reveal, but I still enjoyed the layering aspect of the different relationships and tracing the way the first relationship still affected the second and the third, even long stretches of time down the line.
Beth O'Leary's real strength as a writer is in her characters, and the characters in this novel really shine through as well. She's managed to make a book that very easily could have been a collection of vignettes, with very different and unlinked central characters, feel holistic and complete, and the characters tie into their own stories as well as the overall narrative arc very well for a book that could have been very choppy (it wasn't, in case you are wondering). Each of the main characters are distinctive, clear-cut people with well-written, believable flaws and motivations, and lovely emotional journeys that resonate both with the reader (me) and themselves. I was rooting for all of them, but would particularly like an entire novella just focused on Miranda and AJ, please and thank you, Beth dear.
O'Leary also addresses some pretty heavy topics with her usual kindness and compassion, and I think more of these romance novels need to exist - stories about love and finding love and navigating love while also accepting that real life doesn't take a backseat, and not everybody comes into the right relationship with no emotional baggage that doesn't affect the other person, and love can exist while also learning how to manage what might have happened to you in the past.
Ugh, this book is just so good. It's SO GOOD. I loved it so much and need you to read it immediately, and then I need Beth O'Leary to write another book for me to read.