Book Club: The Story of Our Life

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Author: Shari Low
ISBN: 9781786694096
RRP: $29.99

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.

Shari Low can be found on Facebook, Twitter and sharilow.com.

The Story of Our Life is published by HarperCollins and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

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.

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18 thoughts on “Book Club: The Story of Our Life

  1. The Story of Our Life is an amazingly heart wrenching story from start to finish. The life of mixed families, friends and relationships make this story a very interesting read, in particular when going back and forth through the timelines of both Shauna and Colm. Families showing different dynamics, friends with new relationships being formed, past experiences and the way Shauna and her friend Lulu were bought up play a huge part in their personal happiness. Day to day businesses also have a huge impact on the happiness of the friends of the couple. Emotions are played with, health impacts them all, especially when it is not expected. Marital problems including affairs and forgiveness. So well presented.
    In my opinion, Shari Low has written this story to make have an impact on the reader. Did it work? Absolutely!
    I could not put this book down and needed to read it with a focus on what was happening and where it would end. I was not dissapointed. Shari Low you have made me a fan of your writing. Thank you!

  2. The tag line on the cover….”when love at first sight lasts forever” drew me in to start with, see I met my husband when I was 16 and 34 years later still love him like it was that first day. So I know what we have been through and wondered what I would do if my happy ever after was taken from me.

    Who doesn’t love a good, old fashioned love story? I know I do, but The Story of Our Life is not your typical love story. Boy does not meet girl, get married, have 2.5 kids and they live happily ever after. No, this is real and raw, yet it is still a touching love story.

    It has a wonderful cast of characters that are strong, real, and empathetic. And the plot is written in a past/present, back and forth, style that gives a wonderful depth and appreciation to all the personalities and relationships within it.

    A lot of the book is about life when they were happy rather than later but it still has to deal with the aftermath of his betrayal, when they both obviously still love each other, and how they deal with it

    And how they deal with it and what is it??…that I must leave for you to find out when you read for yourself.

  3. I’m still not sure how to review my feeling of The Story Of Our Life, by Shari Low, because, although I enjoyed it, I expected to love it and I didn’t. I found the way it was written disjointed and jumpy hence, for me, somewhat disjointed. The way the chapters flew back and forth in time spans with no apparent time frame threw me somewhat. I really love Historical Fiction with different time lines but this deals with a relationship over a 15 year span and the back and forth information, some told by Shauna, some by Colm, was a style I found more difficult to become involved with than I’d have liked.

    The story in many areas is really beautiful and beautifully told. The ending was as lovely as I’ve read but needing to actively “get my mind into gear” with the start of every new chapter was off putting for me. The love story was beautiful, many of the characters were too – Shauna’s gorgeous Grandmother was one of the most wonderful characters I’ve “discovered” through reading, but some others acted in ways that are so foreign to me that I couldn’t relate to them.

    The story line “What would you do if your husband slept with another woman?” wasn’t answered until towards the end of the book but I kept wanting an answer much earlier than it came. It is highly possible that I read this particular book at the wrong time, when I was busier than normal, so the disconnection could have been my fault, rather than the way it was written because I did enjoy the book – unfortunately not quite as much as I expected to.

  4. This was my first time reading a book by Shari Low and I absolutely loved it. I couldn’t put it down. I’m definitely going to check out her other books.

  5. Thank for the opportunity to read The Story in of our Life by Shari Low. I have to say I really enjoyed the book and the story of Shauna and Colm!

    Shauna and Colm fall in love – at first sight – and after a very short and whirlwind romance they marry. It feels likes happy ever after………and for years it is apart from some ups and downs like any relationship.

    They seem genuinely and blissfully happy, Shauna loves Colm’s twin sons from his previous marriage and is the perfect stepmother. But the desire for a child of her own and Colms creates tensions as does them both running their own businesses.

    The book moves between the story of Shauna and Colms relationship from when they first met to the troubled present day. Interspersed are their close friends, particularly Lulu and Dan, Vincent, grandmother Annie and Shauna’s very ‘interesting ‘ parents. And it works – understanding the past makes understanding the story so much richer! There are indiscretions and tears.

    Overall I really loved this book! Shari Low has created a great story that charmed, entertained and kept me reading when I shouldn’t have been. Highly recommended.

  6. Oh Dear. This was not a book for me alas. The synopsis mentioned Marian Keys whom I adore.. so I was expecting laugh out loud shenanigans. It was nothing like that at all. It was sad.. Plain and simple. I would even go so far as to say every character in their own way was a sad character, whether because their situation was sad, their personality was underdeveloped or how they dealt with circumstances was disappointing. Reviews are very subjective so this could very much be a case of expecting something else and being shocked at what was delivered. It could also be because of what is happening in my the world. or perhaps I missed the meaning completely. Perhaps it was a cathartic novel for the author I don’t know.The writing was decent. I just was not interested in anything that was happening and was disturbed by it. Hopefully, I am sure, others feel differently.

    1. Thank you, Kai – I was starting to wonder if I was the only one The Story of Our Life didn’t gel with – I really wanted to rewrite it in chronological order and I couldn’t get passed the jumpiness of the chapters. I agree with you about the characters too. I also wondered if I’d read it at the wrong time, being busier than normal. On a personal basis I applaud your honestly and the way you’ve approached your review.
      Trish.

  7. The Story of Our Life by Shari Low.
    The reader gets to experience the life and love of Shauna and Colm. The ups and downs and the true raw realities of life.
    I’m not really sure if I enjoyed the book. So I asked myself would I recommend this book to a friend and to be honest I wouldn’t.
    Don’t get me wrong the story was well written and I would try another story
    By Shari Low but… the it was quite depressing and very predictable. The story constantly changed from past to present and didn’t flow effectively.

  8. Thanks to Beauty and Lace for allowing me to review “The Story Of our Life”.

    Firstly congratulations to Shari Low for her new book.

    The story of Shauna and Colm unfortunately happens too often in real life and can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Their relationship was tested on many occasions and unless you have experienced this yourself its hard to put yourself in the characters shoes.

    It took a little while for me to get into it but by the end it all pieced together nicely.

    Congratulations Shari and looking forward to reading your next book.

  9. The Story of Our Life written by Shari Low is a heartbreaking read, probably situations that occur in real life often however we never read about that side of things.

    It is the story of Shauna and Colm – how they meet, fall in love, get married and start their new lives together, through ups and downs, and then a massive downer. The story jumps from present to past, which I liked as the present was so sad that I liked hearing about the joyous times in their past. I liked both the main characters, they seemed relatable and Colm was such a joker. Her friends Lulu and Dan were wasted I think, really no story to them besides being angry and cheating on each other. I did understand they were integral to the friendship circle though. I think the standout character of the whole book was Shaunas Grandmother, what a beautifully written soul.

    Right from the start I knew something bad was bound to happen, and that sort of brang the mood down straight away for me – why would I keep reading when I know it is going to end in heartbreak and depressing tones. For me the thing that kept me going was the flashbacks to the past. I didn’t like reading about such a terrible thing happening to a beautiful couple.

    I think the message of the story is to stop, slow down and don’t take for granted anyone or anything in life. Would I recommend this book to others, maybe not, but in saying that it was well written and I enjoyed parts of it. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read The Story of Our Life by Shari Low.

  10. The Story of our Life

    This book was not what I expected but an extremely enjoyable read.

    This is the story of Colm and Shauna whose attraction to one another was immediate and they married only weeks after they met.

    It was love at first sight and their relationship and life were somewhat Idyllic for many years.

    Through the ups and downs of married life they stayed devoted to each other, but this is not a typical love story, it is real and raw yet touching.

    Fifteen years later their world is rocked by terrible news.

    The book jumps back and forth in time but is not at all confusing as each chapter tells you what year it is.

    The characters are all very realistic and lovable in different ways. This includes Shauna’s odd and uncaring parents, daughter Beth, Colm’s twin boys from a previous marriage to Jess, their friends Dan, Lulu, Rosie, Vincent
    and Shauna’s grandmother Annie.

    All these characters add a dimension to this very emotional story.

    If this is typical of the work of Shari Low then I will be looking to read more of her books.

    Excellent read!!!

  11. The Story of Our Life by Shari Low.

    I am not really sure where to start; I found this story very sad and emotional. The story is told in the first person by both Shauna and Colm and I found I had to take extra care when reading to know who was telling the story as we were taken back and forth from past to present. I did like how this went back and forth as the present was so sad it was a relief to read of the past with the happy things that had happened in their lives.

    Shauna and Colm fell in love at first sight, what follows is a fairy tale romance and they are married within a few months. Through ups and downs in their married life they are very devoted to each other. Fifteen years later their world falls apart with some terrible news and everything will never be the same again.

    Apart from the main characters of Shauna and Colm, there are Shauna’s uncaring parents, daughter Beth, Colm’s twin boys from his previous marriage to Jess and lifelong friends Rosie, Vincent, Dan and Lulu who all add to the storyline very well with their relationship problems.

    Not sure that this book would suit everyone’s likes, but it certainly did make me think about how we should not always take everything in life for granted.

  12. I enjoyed reading this book, however being as that it is actually written from two perspectives, perhaps a header for each chapter, as simple as ”Colm” or “Shauna”, it would have made it easier to read.
    In saying that, it was still an enjoyable read with a few unexpected twists and turns and not the normal genre of book that I would pick up.

  13. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Story of Our Life by Shari Low.

    This story of Shauna and Colin was an easy and enjoyable read but did not reach the ‘gripping’ status I’d hoped for. I put this down to flow issues and definitely would have preferred the story to have read in a chronological order.

    Despite this preference, I would still be interested in reading any future works written by Shari.

  14. The Story of Our Life was a lovely read, full of humour, truths and reality. We all know someone like one or more of the characters in the book so it made it easy to relate to and empathise with. I was sure I had some of the twists and turns pegged and was always surprised when I was way off!
    I enjoyed the shift in timeline back and forth – more than learning the history and then coming to the present – but even though each chapter lent a clue to whose perspective it would be from, this is where I got confused and would have to go back a paragraph or so and re-read from the other point of view.

    The story gets you involved so much so that I am glad it ended the way it did – although we readers dealt with other heartaches throughout the story, I am glad we didn’t have to fully go through the ending with Colm and just got to the resolution and the aftermath (sorry if that’s vague, I don’t want to give to much away, so I hope those that have read the book know what I mean!)

    Thank you for the chance to review this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  15. I feel really conflicted about this book, and even after sleeping on the ending before writing a review, I still don’t know whether I loved it or hated it!

    I was really looking forward to reading this one because the author was likened to Marian Keyes. The only similarity I was that the book was set in London. I found more similarities with Cecelia Ohern’s P.S. I Love you.

    I enjoyed the authors style of writing, character and plot development, however the format with changing time, and changing perspectives each chapter just didn’t work for me. It seemed to throw the pacing out, in that early in the book I was far more interested in the 2016 chapters, and as I moved through the book I was more interested in the earlier days.

    I found the ending of this book disappointing. There was so much drama in the lead up to the end, that the last few chapters seemed somewhat anti-climatic. Despite all the things I didn’t enjoy with this book, I definitely reached a point where I didn’t want to put it down and read well into the night to finish it.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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