About The Book
‘We spend most of our lives wishing we were somewhere else or someone else, or looking forward or harping back. Always thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But it never is. It’s still grass. Just a different patch of it, that’s all.’
The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up.
When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.
Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.
But then Kate meets Callum again.
And they are faced with a choice: to walk away from each other . . . or to risk finding out what might have been.
Second chances are a rare gift in life. But that doesn’t mean they should always be taken . . .
Gosh this is going to be a difficult book to review. I’m going to start by saying that I did enjoy Never Greener, the debut novel by actress Ruth Jones but I didn’t love it and I am unsure whether it was the fact I was reading it as an audiobook (is that right? Am I reading it if I am listening to it?!) but I struggled with it a little in places.
Never Greener is about Kate and Callum who meet when she starts to work in his brother’s bar. They are instantly attracted to one another and embark on a passionate relationship. Two problems though, there is a hefty age gap between them and Callum is married with two children and has a third on the way. Their affair takes place in the mid 80s and when it implodes Kate leaves the area and becomes a succesful actress. Fast forward to 2002 and she returns to her childhood primary school as a special guest for its centenary, bumping into Callum whilst she is there and they discover that the spark is well and truly still alive.
My struggles with the book were mainly with the way Kate is written as a contemptible person whilst Callum is quite likeable. Kate is in her early 20s when their affair begins and Callum is in his late 30s yet she is seen as a seductive temptress and Callum is just a hapless man who cannot resist her charms. I got annoyed with myself for liking Callum when he was as much to blame for their affair (it takes two to Tango after all). I am unsure whether this was intentional by Ruth Jones and whether she is holding up a mirror on the portrayal of women in this sort of situation but if she was it wasn’t immediately obvious to me.
Saying that though, Ruth Jones really can write people and she writes them incredibly well. Kate is brittle, fake, toxic and a huge contrast to her kind, loving, compassionate husband Matt (who I really liked). Callum and his wife Belinda are both brilliantly written and the insights into relationships of both couples are drawn with an expert eye and deft touch. It is also laugh out loud funny in places with clever observations of emotions and the complications of life.
This isn’t a book that romanticizes infidelity by any means – it really is warts and all, and examines the effect of an affair not only on those involved but on those on the periphery. It is difficult and upsetting for all concerned and wasn’t an easy read/listen at times especially as Ruth Jones highlights the selfish nature of affairs and the almost disdainful way in which those having the affair treat the people they have hurt. My heart broke for both Matt and Belinda – their sadness is palpable.
There is a huge cast of characters whose viewpoints are examined which did make the book drag a little and I felt the book lost its momentum slightly at times (I wondered if I felt this way because it was an audiobook and pacing is so important when listening rather than reading.) I do like a book with multiple viewpoints though and felt that it really added to getting under the skin of the characters and the impact of the affair upon them.
I know this review sounds like I hated the book but I really, really didn’t! I found some parts of it uncomfortable and felt it dragged slightly at times but overall it is a solid read. I would recommend it as beach read as you really can lost in it – the amount of times I sat outside work to listen to the end of a chapter was unreal (I’ll soon find out if my boss reads my blog won’t I?!) and it is entertaining with vividly drawn characters.
Never Greener was published by Transworld Digital on the 5th April. I listened to it on audiobook via Audible which was brilliantly narrated by Sharon Small but it is available in both hardback and Kindle. I actually considered buying the Kindle version a few times so I could see what happens next but I restrained myself, just.