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.

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.



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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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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