Book review: Never Say Goodbye by Susan Lewis
Best-selling author Susan Lewis is never afraid to tackle serious and difficult issues…
But her latest novel gets to grips with a subject that is both highly emotional and, for Lewis, deeply personal… breast cancer.
The disease took her mother’s life when Lewis was only nine and changed the way she saw the world. Now she is ready to shine a light on the way victims and families cope with diagnosis, treatment and all the other experiences that are part of this devastating illness.
The result is Never Say Goodbye, a sensitive, moving and piquantly beautiful novel of friendship, family and the power of love which she hopes will help sufferers and raise the profile of one of this story’s principal ‘characters’ – the Breast Cancer Care charity.
Josie Clark, a 42-year-old wife and mother, lives in a neat semi on a notorious council estate where she struggles to make ends meet, has more than her fair share of troubles but will do anything to protect her family and keep them safe.
She is still reeling from the discovery that her husband Jeff had an affair five years ago with her best – and now former – friend, leaving her unsure about whether he truly loves her. Josie has also suffered the trauma of seeing her teenage son Ryan jailed for an offence he didn’t commit.
The only real light in her life is her beautiful, clever and warm-hearted daughter Lily who is studying for a degree and planning to marry her university sweetheart.
But first Josie knows she really must get that sore swelling in her breast checked out…
On the other side of town is Bel Monkton, a successful property developer who lives in a smart villa by the sea. She seems to have everything going for her but she’s desperately lonely since her twin sister Natalia’s death from breast cancer.
Her only solace is her sister’s young children who give her a sense of purpose but their father has remarried and may soon be moving away.
Josie and Bel’s paths are set to cross and, both faced with uncertainty, they will come to treasure a friendship that keeps them both afloat…
Lewis writes with both her head and her heart… her novels are always supported by painstaking research but imbued with her natural warmth, understanding and sympathy, making her one of the UK’s most popular authors.
Never Say Goodbye harnesses her own painful experiences of breast cancer with a rollercoaster of a story that both informs and inspires. Josie is a very human, very believable character and her journey is inescapably emotional, but the pain is mitigated by her irrepressible humour, her love of life and family and her unquenchable spirit of hope.
Lewis’s own natural optimism also shines through… her belief that ‘we are all capable of being angels for someone’ and that every experience has a positive aspect.
Her aim is that Never Say Goodbye will help anyone suffering the angst of breast cancer and that those who have lost loved ones will feel a little less alone…
A job well done.
(Arrow, paperback, £6.99)