I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and Cornerstone/Century (Random House U.K.) in exchange for an honest review.
You can read my Q&A with Abbie Greaves here.
Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for the past seven years.
Every evening without fail, Mary arrives at Ealing Broadway station and sets herself up among the commuters. In her hands Mary holds a sign which bears the words: ‘Come Home Jim.’
Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere.
That is, until an unexpected call turns her world on its head. In spite of all her efforts, Mary can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim?
Having not read Greaves’ debut novel, I went into her latest – The Ends of the Earth– pretty blind.
Greaves creates characters- particularly in Mary and Jim – who appear to be one thing one the outside but, when you truly get into their characters, you realise (as the characters themselves do) that there is so much more to them. Mary is beautiful, caring and ambitious but – in the present day – she is tortured the unknown fate of her first love, Jim, and lets the public know through a heart wrenching nightly vigil. Jim, similarly, is known as beautiful, loving and successful but he has feelings he just can’t shake.
I could easily have read the story of Mary or of Jim but the sickly sweet, slightly cliche first meeting and subsequent love story between them was a captivating read. I can read slow burn romances but I think nothing appeals to me more than a romance that is quick, allowing the reader to truly observe the romance without much time to digest other stuff. My heart soared when they shared their first meeting and I loved the softer, private moments between them. I also really appreciated how, through more serious topics like alcohol issues and loss, Greaves illustrated obstacles and changes in a relationship and this allows us to see a different side to characters we think we know.
As much as this book is about Mary, it’s also about the people that help her find Jim – from Alice, an aspiring journalist whose job is at stake, to her colleagues at Nightline. I initially assumed this story would only follow one character but – whilst I was more interested in Mary’s side of the narrative – The Ends of the Earth follows a community of people racing to help one woman, which isn’t something you read (or see) every day. I could read a standalone book about the rest of the characters for sure.
My only problem with this book was the fact that it felt a little bit anticlimactic, as you spend half of the book trying to answer the question where is Jim and why won’t he come home, then – when everything is pieced together – I don’t think you get the resolution you might expect, even though the ending was a lot more hopeful than I expected.
Regardless, The Ends of the Earth is a captivating contemporary novel about first love, male mental health and people coming together.
About the Author
Abbie Greaves studied at Cambridge University before working in a literary agency for a number of years. She was inspired to write her first novel, The Silent Treatment, after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another before. Abbie lives in Brighton with her boyfriend.
You can find out more about Abbie (and buy her books here).
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