Book review: Five Years From Now by Paige Toon
Are you looking for the perfect summer read'¦ a story to make you laugh, cry and wish that the journey from first page to last didn't have to end?
Well, look no further than this simply gorgeous, bittersweet tale from the very talented Paige Toon, an author who can break our hearts, put them back together again and make everyday life seem that little bit more special.
With a string of warm and perceptive novels for both teens and adults already under her belt, Toon reaches new heights of emotive power in a page-turning, soul-stirring odyssey which follows the fates of a seemingly star-crossed couple as their lives and loves intersect over the course of 30 years.
What happens if you meet the right person at the wrong time? Five-year-old Nell Forrester spends her time between her mother’s home in London and her father Geoff’s cottage by the Helford River in Cornwall. Nell particularly loves the time spent with her beloved dad but one summer she finds two other people have also moved in.
Geoff has fallen in love with artist Ruth and she lives there now with her five-year-old son Vian. At first Nell is unsure of this shy interloper but as the weeks pass they become inseparable and a deep friendship is born.
And when Nell’s mother heads of to the French Riviera with a new boyfriend, she is able to move permanently to live with her father, Ruth and Vian. But only a few years later, the two youngsters are torn apart by a terrible tragedy and Vian moves to Australia to join a side of his family he has never before met.
Fast-forward five more years when Vian comes to visit and Nell discovers that the young boy she once knew is now calling himself Van and has turned into a wild and carefree teenager. This time the chemistry between them crackles but once again they have to separate.
For the next two decades, Nell and Van meet every five years, but life and circumstance always intervene. Will they ever find true happiness… and will it be together?
Blending realism and romance in the most enchanting harmony, Five Years From Now explores not just the twists and turns of Nell and Van’s on-off love but the other formative and nurturing relationships that shape how we perceive and face the world.
Thus the moving relationship between a parent and child, and the close friendships formed in childhood, are just as integral to this thoroughly life-affirming story as the fates of the two show-stealing principal players.
Using her finely-tuned writing skills, her enviable grasp of the human heart and its frailties, and her ability to find gut-wrenching emotion in the smallest of words, looks and actions, Toon sweeps her readers away to locations as diverse as the stunning Cornish countryside and the heat and wild beauties of Australia.
Five Years From Now is a beautiful, uplifting story in which fate writes the script and where the course of true love is never guaranteed to run smoothly. It’s a tale of our times, yet also a classic love story, and with an ending so exquisitely executed that it will take your breath away, this is undoubtedly 2018’s hottest beach read.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)