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One Step Too Far


One Step Too Far

You may have heard of ONE STEP TOO FAR. It is part of what one might call a Cinderella story for author Tina Seskis, who published her novel independently and watched it ultimately become an international bestseller. It is just now being released in the United States, where it undoubtedly will replicate the success it has enjoyed elsewhere. Seskis is not a literary author, but the book is master storytelling. Anyone who has experienced tragedy, or has thought for more than a fleeting moment about disappearing from their life and starting another somewhere far away, will find much to love here.

"ONE STEP TOO FAR is perfectly paced and wonderfully plotted. There is no good place to stop reading, even if you wanted to do so (you won’t)."

It is Emily Coleman who is the runaway here, and, for a good portion of ONE STEP TOO FAR, it is hard to be certain why she is doing what she is doing. Emily is a corporate attorney with a loving husband who is everything that her birth family is not: steady, dependable and (as opposed to her twin sister, Caroline) unconditionally loving. We meet Emily on the morning that she leaves everything behind, closing the door on her comfortable and loving home in Manchester and losing herself in London. Little is revealed to the reader, at least at first; all that is known is that Emily has done something for which she can never forgive herself.

She finds lodging in a house one step above (maybe a half-step above) a hovel, populated by a rather motley group of housemates. Her saving grace is Angel, who becomes her almost-instant new best friend. It is Angel who supports Emily --- now known as “Cat”  --- and buoys her spirits, navigating her through the personalities of the housemates, while being indirectly instrumental in connecting her with gainful employment as a receptionist in an advertising agency. To the surprise of everyone, most of all herself, Cat thrives in her job and moves up the ranks over the course of several months.

Her success and new life are occasionally overshadowed by her thoughts of guilt for having so suddenly left Ben and her home. Ben is devastated by his wife’s abrupt though obviously voluntary disappearance, and quickly sinks into a morass, barely keeping his head above water and the household together. It is not until circumstances conspire to reveal Cat’s whereabouts to him that the first steps toward revelation take place.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, some of which are created by the author’s subtle misdirection, before the full truth of what occurred during a tragic moment on a fateful day is ultimately revealed. But that is hardly the end of the story, which continues to unfold almost until the book’s final page.

ONE STEP TOO FAR is perfectly paced and wonderfully plotted. There is no good place to stop reading, even if you wanted to do so (you won’t). In the brief, understated and poignant Author’s Note that closes the novel, Seskis tells how the story came to be, a revelation that echoes backward through the pages. Save some time to read this book twice; you will want to give in to the temptation.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 30, 2015

One Step Too Far
by Tina Seskis