Disclaimer: Please note I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour, in exchange for my honest review.
When I spotted The Ends of the Earth on Twitter, my first thought was “sweet, I could use a light romance”.
But then I read the premise and was even more intrigued. This is a story I, personally, have never encountered before. A romance where one partner is nowhere to be found but may still possibly return? Sign me up.
On the surface, this is a gripping tale of will he, won’t he, but on closer analysis, it’s here to make you question just how far you would go for love.
The trope isn’t necessarily new, as there is a lot of pop culture around that covered the disappeared lover prompt in one way or another. If you’ve ever watched the movie Cast Away, do you remember your feelings when Tom Hanks’s fiancee turned out to have married in the four years that he was stranded on the island?
I remember the conflict of ethics in my own mind: if she had married and had a child while he was disappeared or believed to be dead, had it meant that she lost hope after a mere one or two years?
Would I have lost hope so soon? Is one year even soon?
This is what The Ends of the Earth explores but over a much longer period of time, and that’s where it’s nothing like the other approaches to this trope. Mary, the protagonist, has been waiting for her partner Jim to return for seven years.
Now that’s dedication.
From the publisher
Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.
Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands, Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’
Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society — Mary isn’t going anywhere.
That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question — where on earth is Jim?
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and how heartwarming and at the same time tremendously heartbreaking it was.
There are glimpses of the past throughout the book, detailing how Mary and Jim met, fell in love and their chemistry, which I thought was very well described and built.
I believe in the power of chemistry between two people and seeing how much the plot played on the strong and almost instantaneous connection between the two protagonists made me believe in Mary’s dedication all the more.
The characters are all flawlessly built, but especially Mary truly strikes you as the realistic, relatable and profound woman she is made out to be. Her faith, determination and courage to keep holding on to the hope that Jim will return showed a lot of strength.
On the surface, it may seem like Mary is weak for refusing to move on, but when you get into her reasoning and see how much she is ready to sacrifice just to get Jim back, it becomes obvious that she is a resilient character who hasn’t lost it all.
I would recommend this story with all my heart. It’s emotional, empathic, sweet and very romantic, an excellent twist on your usual fluffy love story.
The Ends of the Earth comes out tomorrow, 6th January, from Century, an imprint of Penguin. You can pre-order it here.
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