In yet another fascinating foray into innovative fiction, author Cecelia Ahern presents us with hapless Lucy Silchester, who lives entangled in a web of lies following a series of unfortunate events three years earlier.
As the story opens, Lucy receives, yet again, an appointment card that she does not want to accept. She has ignored several of these fancy embossed invitations, which fall through her mail slot to land on the burnt and filthy carpet of the tiny, depressing apartment she shares with her hermaphrodite cat, Mr. Pan (sometimes called Samantha, Hilary and Mary). She knows the summons is (literally) from her life. Her life is in trouble and it needs her. Now, Lucy isn't as amazed by this turn of events as we might be. She has read magazine articles in which the subject of the story has completely turned around her future (as well as her makeup and hairdo) by meeting with her own respective life. And, frankly, Lucy's existence could stand quite a bit of improvement.
"THE TIME OF MY LIFE is an incredibly enjoyable page-turner. Lucy is not only a fully realized character (as are all the people in this book), she is also hilarious."
For five years, Lucy had lived --- so very happily --- with the Love of Her Life, the perfect Blake. They had entertained lavishly in their beautiful large apartment. Since Blake is a food and travel writer, the couple had thrown wonderful dinner parties and traveled everywhere --- climbing mountains, skydiving and bungee jumping. Then Lucy dumped him. Actually, that is not at all true; it is just the story the couple concocted to save her dignity after he suddenly told her it was all over. Blake's leaving was the first topple in a series of dominos that soon resulted in Lucy losing her job, her driver's license, and her home.
Now she pines for Blake, which is made even easier than usual since he now stars in his own television show in which he reviews exotic travel destinations, all the while looking incredibly muscular and hunkily desirable. After Lucy's fall from grace, she has landed in a job translating appliance instruction manuals. She doesn't enjoy her job and makes fun of her co-workers. To say she doesn't devote all her energy to her work is understating it a bit; she actually takes smoking breaks to temporarily avoid work even though she doesn't smoke. Lucy's problems don't stop with her unrequited love for Blake, her dreadful hole of a home, and her lackluster job. She also has major family problems, especially with her demanding perfectionistic father. To add to her woes, she is distanced from her friends, who continue to be bewildered by the fact (that isn't true) that Lucy dumped wonderful Blake.
Even Lucy has to admit her future looks bleak, so she finally calls the number on her invite. She is amazed when an American-sounding woman with a Southern accent answers. The secretary suggests that Lucy's life will meet with her in her apartment, but she comes up with an excuse: her carpets need to be cleaned. This results in a recommendation that will reverberate through her future. When Lucy meets her life, she discovers that he is a man in a wrinkled gray suit with a stubbly needs-to-shave face and terrible breath, who has the annoying habit of constantly calling her on her frequent falsehoods. And yet he seems to believe he can somehow help her with her lack of focus and consistency, improving her existence.
THE TIME OF MY LIFE is an incredibly enjoyable page-turner. Lucy is not only a fully realized character (as are all the people in this book), she is also hilarious. Cecelia Ahern embraces risk as a writer; this plot could have been an indecipherable mess in less talented hands considering the set-up. Instead, it is a layered commentary on all the facets composing Lucy's (and our own) life, giving us a thoughtful message wrapped in an entertaining read.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 24, 2013
The Time of My Life