Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Escape - Barbara Delinsky

'Have you ever woken up in a cold sweat, thinking that you've taken a wrong turn and are stuck in a life you don't want? 

Emily Aulenbach suddenly realises one morning that her life isn't what she had hoped it would be, and she needs to escape, both from her career and from aspects of her relationships that aren't bringing happiness. In fact, she is deeply unhappy and decides she must make a change. She walks out of the law firm she works at in New York there and then, hurriedly grabs some of her things, and drives out of the city. But the place she ends up in, Bell Valley, brings with it's own faces from the past, and doesn't provide an answer to everything, and she has to work out how to deal with her life now, and determine what she really wants for her future. 

Emily is 'having a personal crisis'; she has been on such a continuous daily treadmill and feels in need of escape and of rescue. She loves her husband James but bitterly regrets the fact that due to their incredibly demanding jobs as lawyers, they hardly ever see each other, and even when they do have time together, they are exhausted from their long working hours. Their attempts at starting a family have so far been unsuccessful, and what's more, Emily feels that the friendships she has in the city are not genuine. She wonders if we aren't all similar in some ways: '...searching for what we wanted, not quite knowing what it was until we stumbled on it.' 

After getting away, and taking time to become involved in the community with old friends and new in Bell Valley, Emily begins to realise what, and who, is most important to her in life. There is a interesting legal sub-plot involving one of the characters in Bell Valley, which builds to a climax towards the end of the novel. Nature also plays a significant role in this story. Whilst Emily is living in Bell Valley, she revisits the woods where she spent time in her past, and observes the animals, most significantly the coyote. She feels no fear in it's presense; rather she feels a kind of connection to it. 

The author writes really well about relationships, and about real-life situations, creating a character for us in Emily that it is possible to identify with, and having her ponder all of the things that can make or break a happy life depending if they are happy or miserable - career, family, friendships. I really think Emily's position is one that many people will be able to relate to, to some extent; heading from school to University and then onto a career ladder, marriage and a home with a large mortgage and so on, with no chance to stop for a moment and take a breath. Equally readers will understand the need and desire to make a change when life feels like it is running away from you and nothing is what you had imagined it might be when you were younger. It's an emotional journey and I enjoyed accompanying Emily through this and finding out how things might change for her. At times the story surprised me, in a positive way, as it took a different direction to what I had perhaps expected.

The author acknowledges that this act of breaking away, of escaping, is far from easy, and there are no guarantees that you've made the right decision. Equating the pieces that may make up her future life with baking, Emily muses: 'If life was about getting the recipe right, I had to figure out the ingredients before I could tinker with proportions. The problem, of course, was that I couldn't do a test batch in the kitchen one afternoon.'

Published by new imprint Canvas, part of Constable and Robinson, on 5 April 2012.

You can visit the author's website here to find out more.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a proof copy of this novel to read and review.


  1. This sounds like the perfect escape novel! Just what I feel like reading at the moment... I love the cover too. Great review Lindsay!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

    1. Cheers Megan. It does get you thinking about the idea of escaping. I like the cover too.

  2. I haven't read Barbara Delinsky in so long! thanks for reminding me to pick up one of her books!

  3. just finished together, alone, you can't be disappointed with any of Barbara's books.


    1. Thanks for commenting Julie. I definitely want to read more of her novels.


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