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Friday 29 September 2017

‘The One That Got Away’ by Annabel Kantaria

Published by HQ,
21 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-84845-6759-512-2(PB)

The school reunion. Nightmare. As if school itself wasn't competitive enough, a decade or so later do we really need all those enquiring eyes wondering if the high-achiever in class made it to the top in the post-education world? Or worse, if that paunchy, almost-bald groper over by the bar was really the class hunk way back then?

On the other hand... what if the big sixth-form romance which resulted in heartbreak could turn out to have a happy ending after all?

Stella and George didn't exactly have the big romance fifteen years ago, but they did have a kind of magnetic pull to each other; so, when the school reunion throws them together after fifteen years it's kind of inevitable that they'll want to see if it's still there. It didn't end well back then, but these things rarely do, and now they are both successful and reasonably well off, you'd think they'd want the past to stay in the past

But... George is now married to Ness, the sixth-form glamour queen and nice girl; all the same, Stella's allure proves too much, and he pursues her relentlessly, with predictable results. But what follows is far from predictable...

I couldn't put this book down. As it see-sawed from one point of view to the other (they take alternate chapters), it exercised the same appalling fascination over me that Stella and George did over each other when they were teenagers. I needed to know what was going on and how it would turn out; from the first night in the bar at the reunion, right through to the chilling final paragraph, it had me gripped.

I didn't like either of them, would move railway carriages to avoid sitting with them, but they intrigued me and held me in thrall. Annabel Kantaria, an unfamiliar name to me until now, painted a vivid picture, both physical and psychological, of both protagonists and the people around them, and also of the places in which the action took place. As the storyline unfolded and lives unravelled, it became horribly clear what was happening, but still I had to see how, or if, it would be resolved.

I can't say more than that; it would be far too easy to drop in a spoiler, and it wouldn't be fair on either a potential reader or a clever and courageous author. She, too, could have made it easy for herself; she chose not to, and she made it work.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Annabel Kantaria is a British journalist who now lives in Dubai with her husband and children. She has edited and contributed to women’s magazines and publications throughout the Middle East and returns regularly to the UK.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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