The book begins on 13th December 1991 in London, where we see the same scene from the viewpoints of the two main characters Ted and Marianne. Ted has had enough of life and is planning to commit suicide by jumping off Waterloo Bridge. Marianne has just had the evening from hell and – still dressed in her fairy costume from the party – comes across Ted and persuades him not to kill himself.
Ted is twenty-two and kips on his friend Danny’s sofa. Marianne is twenty and still lives with her parents. They both have difficulties to deal with, they are both hurt, damaged from previous events in their lives. You immediately feel sorry for them and see they are good people at heart, so you root for them to end up with a happy ever after.
The book is written from Ted and Marianne’s viewpoints and covers a period of twenty years. It isn’t a predictable romance story, it’s more about following these two people who have had an impact on each other from their dramatic first meeting and seeing how things change for them during these years. Neither of them forget Bridge Man and Fairy Girl as the years go by.
It’s a bit Sliding Doors in places – missed opportunities and what if they had done that or said this instead of what actually happens. This begins right at the start when Marianne gets a taxi away from the bridge Ted was planning to jump off. The next day, they both regret not finding out each other’s names or contact details. There were many times when I was shouting at the book, because it’s so frustrating when they just miss each other!
There is a theme of relationships here – with friends and with parents. Ted has a great relationship with his best mate Danny while Marianne has her lovely friend Lance (a girl called Alison – Lance is a nickname). While Ted’s parents are largely absent from his life, Marianne’s are constantly present, as she lives with them.
I loved the characters straight away as they do feel real, they aren’t the kind of characters you find in some books who already have it all, they are struggling. I also enjoyed the way we were invested in both stories and it didn’t follow any of the predictable paths some novels go down. It never felt inevitable that Ted and Marianne would end up together (and I’m not telling you either!), so it was a surprise throughout which keeps the reader interested to see what their fates are.
My only small criticism is that with seeing both viewpoints, some of the scenes are recounted twice, which becomes a bit repetitive.
But overall, it’s a lovely book with amazing characters and I would definitely read more of Clare’s work.
How To Save A Life
One night in December, twenty-two year old Ted Green makes his way to Waterloo Bridge determined to end his life. Lonely, despairing and utterly hopeless, it seems the only choice to make.
That same night in December, Marianne Cooper is running away from a party. Having found her boyfriend in a passionate clinch with someone else, Marianne can’t get away fast enough. But as she makes her way along London’s South Bank, a figure catches her eye on top of the bridge.
Then she sees him, a man ready to jump.
When Marianne saves Ted’s life, this night in December becomes one they’ll never forget, but as Ted watches Marianne leave in a black taxi, all he can think is he should have asked her name.
In a story spanning twenty years, join Ted and Marianne as they navigate life’s twists and turns, joys and heartbreaks, while all the time wondering – will fate ever bring them together again…
Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3iMr1pm
Author Bio –
Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages. She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines. She lives in Hertfordshire. Before We Grow Old, was published in January 2022.
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