Review published on September 6, 2017.
Without doubt, Virginia Macgregor’s The Return of Norah Wells was one of my favourite books of last year, so it was with great anticipation I picked up her latest novel, Before I was Yours, and I can honestly say Virginia Macgregor has done it again. This will definitely be one of my highlights of the year and Macgregor is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. She writes with such heart and conveys such emotion in her stories that you can’t help but get caught up in the drama of the plot. But for me it’s her characters that are in a class all of their own, and in this book there is a quartet of main characters, each of whom is brilliantly drawn and each of whom connects effortlessly with the reader.
Navigating seamlessly between Jonah, a seven-year-old boy who leaves the island of Lamu to come to England, Trudi, a social worker who picks up Jonah’s case in the UK, and Rosie and Sam, the adoptive parents of Jonah, Macgregor takes her readers on the journey of each of these characters. And she does such a brilliant job of bringing them to life that it’s easy to forget they’re characters on a page. I’ve always been impressed by how well Macgregor depicts her child protagonists in particular, and Jonah is no exception; I defy anyone not to fall in love with him. The adult characters are pleasingly imperfect, but this merely adds to their humanity, though I felt sometimes with Rosie and Sam in particular they could feel a little capricious. Yet theirs is a story that conjures immense sentiment.
Indeed, the novel covers extensive ground in its 430-odd pages, yet from beginning to end, Macgregor maintains an unparalleled emotional connection with her reader. There are twists and turns aplenty, and some readers may feel a bit sceptical about the way the narrative progresses, but for me the arc of the story is simply a portrayal of the very extreme situations life can throw at you. If I have one wish, it would have been that we had an epilogue, a year or two on, but this is purely my own personal desire for a Hollywood happy ever after than any complaints about how the novel ends. And for individual readers and reading groups alike, I have no hesitation in recommending this novel, in fact I encourage you to pick it up for your next read.
Jade Craddock 5/5
Before I Was Yours by Virginia Macgregor
Sphere 9780751565225 pbk Aug 2017