My rating: 5 of 5 stars
ARC provided by publisher
Format – e-book
“India smiled. ‘Everything is fixable, Hannah …’
Hannah and India are new best friends. Although true friendship means always telling each other the truth, doesn’t it?
Hannah, you see, is running from her life back in Sydney. Now in London, she’s trying to put the past behind her, and finding this amazing new friend is a positive step forward. If only she could stop punishing herself for what she did.
India knows Hannah is hiding something big, and she’s determined to figure it out. Fast.
Because India has a secret of her own … One that is currently sealed in a love letter that’s making its journey across Europe in the most unconventional way.
Before it reaches its destination, can India help Hannah learn to forgive herself? And will Hannah wake up and realise that India needs rescuing too?”
Having fled from her home in Australia, and placed herself in self-imposed exile in London, Hannah finds herself working in a museum gift shop, going home every night to a lonely flat to eat microwave dinners – her punishment.
At work one day, a toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of the shop and she sees a young woman approach and deal with it in the most unlikely manner. Whilst Hannah’s reaction to the toddler’s tantrum is extreme and she attempts to hide it, she finds it bizarre that the very next day she crosses paths with the same young woman from the shop – India – and wonders if this friendship is fated, even though she doesn’t deserve to have any friends after what she has done.
India, highly intuitive, decides to insert herself into Hannah’s life, having noticed her reaction to the tantrum. Her first thoughts on noticing Hannah’s peculiar reaction were of opportunity, “a new project – someone to fix, someone to save” and of course, she turns out to be everything that Hannah feels she is not – charming, confident and free-spirited.
Having not had a close friend since the end of year Nine when her parents had split up, Hannah finds herself embarking on a friendship built on lies and secrets, and whilst India attempts to draw Hannah into confiding in her, towards the end of Part One we see Hannah contemplating the unthinkable. The novel then segues into Part Two and Hannah’s true story begins to unfold with the real reason behind her strange reaction to the tantrum-throwing child in the store becoming clearer. My sympathies and emotions were stirred and, without giving too much away, I could relate to her in so many ways, because I, myself, have been there! Part Three will rock your world, as India, with good reason, launches an emotional tirade against Hannah who finally begins to reveal her secrets.
But Hannah’s is not the only story to be told here. India, too, has a secret, but refuses to reveal it in words, instead, placing the unthinkable in writing, addressed only to “Simon – The Aella”, and relying on the kindness of travelling strangers – and fate – to safely deliver it.
Having never read a book by Nicola Moriarty before, when I picked up this novel and started reading, I had to double-check the genre on Goodreads and ensure it was in fact Contemporary and not Young Adult, and whilst you may experience this too, please persevere, because as the story progresses, the content is definitely adult.
Told in third person from multiple points of view, it is broken up into six parts with many threads skilfully tied up in this beautifully written novel and some elements of the unique plot calling to mind two of my favourite movies, Sweet November and Pay It Forward.
Nicola Moriarty has a strong character voice which is compassionate throughout, and totally necessary in dealing with the issues within, which are both delicate and heart-breaking and lend themselves to the final unselfishness and extraordinariness of India – and the relationship between all the characters will bowl you over.
Powerful and evocative, Ms Moriarty has created a heart-warming tale of unlikely friendship, hope and divine providence with characters that are so well drawn that the ending left me reflecting on a very true saying, “people come into your life for a reason, a season, a lifetime”.
This novel has earned 5/5 stars from me and I highly recommend it.
While I have yet to read her first novel Free-Falling, after reading Paper Chains, I have placed this on my TBR as I firmly believe that Nicola is a writer who is going to go places and I will most certainly be on the look out for further novels from her.
I wish to thank both the publisher, Random House Australia and NetGalley for providing me with an uncorrected proof of this novel.
A Little About the Author (taken from the Author’s website)
Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small (but remarkably strong willed) daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.
Paper Chains is her second novel.