Author: Shari Low
The Story of Our Life is my introduction to Shari Low and it was an enjoyable read though not what I expected. The synopsis I read on Goodreads and the media release have an extra line to what’s on the back of the book and I expected that to have a much bigger impact on the story than it did.
What would you do if your husband slept with another woman?
This one line had me in suspense for almost the entire book, I kept waiting to see what happened and who it would be. That one line created an underlying suspicion and second guessing of most of what I read waiting for the infidelity. It turns out that it was a very small element of the story.
That’s not to say that there isn’t an underlying current of infidelity throughout the book, because there is; but it doesn’t involve Colm and Shauna.
The Story of Our Life runs on quite a back and forth timeline. The narrative jumps from past to present and covers all the important moments in the life of Colm and Shauna. I think my biggest issue with the writing was that it’s in the first person, which wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have two first person narrators and a jumpy timeline. I found it took me a little more time to sink into the change of perspectives than I would have expected. I had to give conscious thought to working out who was telling the story.
The blurb talks of Colm walking into Shauna’s life fifteen years ago so I expected it to be her side of the story, but there is quite a bit of Colm’s side of the story too.
Colm and Shauna meet in a bar one night through mutual friends, it’s love at first sight and they embark on a whirlwind fairy-tale romance that sees them married within months. They are so sure and so in love but it seems they didn’t actually get to know one another quite as well as they thought.
The story begins in 2016 in a church with reminiscences of a wedding in the same church fifteen years before, the first in white and the second in black. This chapter sets the scene for a moment we spend the entire book working towards, without a lot of information and I admit that I wasn’t quite on the right track.
Shauna and Colm have a relationship that is realistically written, even with the super quick engagement. They began with an exciting courtship of long lazy days in bed and oodles of time devoted to one another. They were surrounded by a select group of beautiful friends that were always there and more of an extended family. But things changed as life happened; work hours got longer and responsibilities crept in. Their love remained but the connection sometimes got patchy.
Shauna and Colm are forced to face their biggest hurdle yet and so we journey back and forth through the years to find out what brought them to the place they’re at now. Their relationship, their friendships and their circumstances are all entirely believable, completely relatable and left me hurting for the characters more than once as I read.
Family dynamics are explored in lots of different ways. Shauna and her best friend Lulu grew up in dysfunctional families that were very similar and it bonded the two in a way I doubt anything else would. It is often said that our roots and our childhoods shape our future and the adults we grow into, which is something I agree with to an extent. It certainly worked for Lulu and Shauna but from very similar upbringings they grew into very different adults. Their relationships with fidelity and monogamy were certainly very different.
The curve ball isn’t related to fidelity and was very much out of left field for the characters, but as readers the hints were dropped along the way and it wasn’t a total shock.
Low has written a touching and complicated story that explores the way in which we end up isolating ourselves in our battles; sometimes when we need to be banding together we end up barricading ourselves behind walls that even the most loyal loved ones can’t breach. We try to do what we think our loved ones need and a lack of conversation leads to resentment and we end up facing our battles alone.
The Story of Our Life was an engaging read that kept me up much longer than I should have been. This was my first Shari Low but I hope that it won’t be my last.
Thanks to HarperCollins 10 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading The Story of Our Life so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.