Together, you flee England to live in New Zealand with your parents, and after being pardoned for the crime of kidnapping, you officially adopt her and start your lives afresh.
If that’s not depressing enough, now imagine this: Years later, you have met and married a lovely man, and together bought a vineyard and had two more beautiful children. Everything seems perfect. But it couldn’t be further from it. The dear sweet child you adopted five years ago has changed. She is no longer kind and appreciative of your love, but bitter and resentful. She’s prone to violent outbursts and fights constantly with everyone around her. At only eight, she’s been suspended from school countless times for “inappropriate” behaviour. She’s even assaulted the psychologist you hired to help her. You genuinely fear for the safety of the younger children. You’ve even found out she’s been googling things like “how to kill your family”.
To make matters worse the Vineyard is struggling financially and the added stress of your daughter’s behaviour is putting even more strain on your marriage. What do you do?
Risk the safety of your younger children?
Lose the Vineyard and your marriage?
Or do you give her back? But what does that even mean when her birth mother is dead and her father is in jail?
Yep. Sounds cheerful huh? Try reading 358 pages of it, thick with heavy third person narrative. It made me want to close the book and smack myself over the head with it. With subject matter like this, Susan Lewis could give Jodi Picoult a run for her money.
While, You Said Forever, may be just as fluffy and formulaic as Lewis’s 39 other titles, you can’t deny its readability. Though she does have a hankering for adverbs and a tendency to overload the reader with too much description, it is definitely a page turner.
One thing this book does have going for it is its New Zealand setting. After fleeing England Charlotte settles in the Hawkes Bay where her and her husband buy a Vineyard and set to work creating the Tuki River Winery. The real life Black Barn vineyard also makes an appearance as does Te Mata School and Principal Mike Bain, which I have to say, is pretty cool. Though she does spell Kindy as Kindi (short for kindergarten) and that’s just wrong if you ask me.
As a writer this book taught me that:
A) All of my writing tutors (and Stephen King) were right and the adverb is not your friend.
B) Readable, page turning yet averagely written books can get published.
C) If you pump out enough as mentioned average books you can indeed make a good living as a writer and
D) it’s a great idea to use all overseas holiday destinations as settings for future books.
Having read Lewis's previous title 'The Moment She Left' I can say that she does well at the fluffy non-committal read. The kind that is great when you don't really have time to open The Luminaries or War and Peace. Though when she digs into icky subject matter like this, it makes the easy read a little less enjoyable. If I wanted to read a slightly icky book, I'd chose one like Room by Emma Donoghue, which while heavy, is also spectacular.