Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Review: ‘The Book of Tomorrow’ by Cecelia Ahern

Date finished: 16 March 2011

Rating: 3 stars

Format: eBook

Source: NetGalley

Genre: Contemporary fiction; ‘chick lit’

Published: by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd in October 2009

The Synopsis (taken from waterstones.com)

Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she’s ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She’s always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara’s childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin. When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its’ core.

The Review

A few years ago, I read P.S. I love you and cried pretty much all the way through it. It didn’t change my literary world but it was a nice little read. That was pretty much what I expected from The Book of Tomorrow and I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, this reminded me a lot of the amateur detective-type books I read as a teen, like the Nancy Drew series, for example.

To give her credit where its due, Ahern does broach emotional subject matter in a style that still manages to be reasonably light. Tamara’s father kills himself in his study and it is Tamara who finds him. To make it more gut-wrenching, the last words she yelled at him were that she hated him and never wanted to see him again.

The characters are a tad one-dimensional but they’re an eclectic bunch that still manage to create a brilliant backdrop to Tamara’s tale. The dialogue is snappy in a teenage way with hefty doses of sarcasm, occasionally to the extent that I felt old but always to the creation of a perfect narrator in Tamara.

While trying to get used to her new life amongst these locals, after finding a mysterious book on board the local travelling library, Tamara finds she has a window to the future. What’s lovely about the novel is that it doesn’t spend time rationalising the ‘magic’ – the book can write the future, move on with the story! It’s a curious thing – the well-worn questions: would you want to know your future? If you knew your future, would you change it? Could you if you tried?

Alongside Tamara’s realisation of her own faults and glimmers of the future is a mystery surrounding the ‘creepy aunt’. This is where it reminded me of my childhood favourites – a quiet and secluded house, an aunt who appears to be going to great lengths to hide her past, a somewhat reclusive uncle and a catatonic mother – but what are they hiding…? There’s the obligatory teen attempt at stealth and over-dramatisation and, in the end, it’s all innocently enjoyable!

Overall: This is a quick little read with some great comic moments and a cosy-style mystery. Like I said, it’s not going to break your literary world apart but it will keep you entertained for a few hours! Guiltless fun and perfect for a sunny afternoon in the garden!