Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Review: Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

Thirty years ago, on the date in June known as Midsummer's Day, a young girl is mysteriously orphaned. Now, after a life of bizarre and troubling circumstances, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she too will die on Midsummer's Day . . . until she meets the one man who may be able to save her

Azalea Lewis's life has been dominated by coincidences-a bizarre, and increasingly troubling, series of chance events so perfectly coordinated that any sane person would conclude that only the hidden hand of providence could explain them.

On Midsummer's Day, 1982, at the age of three, Azalea was found wandering a fairground in England, alone, too young to explain what had happened to her or her parents. After a brief investigation, she was declared a ward of the court, and placed in foster care. The following year, the body of a woman-her mother-was found on a nearby beach, but by then everyone had forgotten about the little girl, and no connection was ever made. The couple who adopted Azalea brought her to Africa, where-on Midsummer's Day, 1992-they were killed in a Ugandan uprising while trying to protect their children. Azalea is spared on that day, but as she grows into adulthood, she discovers that her life has been shaped by an uncanny set of coincidences-all of them leading back to her birth mother, a single mother on the Isle of Man, and the three men who could have been her father, each of whom has played an improbable but very real role in her fate.

Troubled by what she has uncovered-and increasingly convinced that she, too, will meet her fate on Midsummer's Day-she approaches Thomas Post, a rational-minded academic whose specialty is debunking our belief in coincidence: the belief that certain events are linked, even predestined, by the hands of fate. Even as they fall in love, Thomas tries to help to understand her past as a series of random events-not a divinely predetermined order. Yet as the fateful date draws closer, Thomas begins to fear that he may lose her altogether, and she may throw herself into the very fate she fears.

A warm and romantic, yet intellectually fascinating, story of two souls trying to make sense of the universe and our place in it, Coincidence is an unforgettable novel by a storyteller of masterful gifts.

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 18th 2014 by Harper Perennial 
Kristine's Thoughts:
* I received an advanced readers copy from Harper Perennial via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*
Coincidence is a truly unique and interesting tale of one woman and the circumstances that surround her life. It is at times funny, haunting, tragic and beautiful. The synopsis is extremely detailed (perhaps too detailed) so I won't re-tell the story but I will say that the events of Azalea's life and before are nothing short of unbelievable. Ironmonger does a spectacular job of weaving in and out of each story flawlessly.
I was drawn to Azalea's back story in particular her time in Africa. Although fictional, I was deeply haunted by the interactions with the LRA and Joseph Kony. We all know who he is after a very broad Internet campaign against him in 2012, so to read about him even in a fictional setting was very eerie for lack of better words.
Azalea's present story with Thomas was good but I did not enjoy it quite as much as when the book took us back. Their dialogue was sometimes too intellectual and wordy, leaving me slightly bored at times. I did however like the two of them together and was hopeful that they would have a positive outcome. Admittedly, I had no idea how the story would end or if Azalea's predictions would come true which kept me glued to the pages.
If you are looking for a well written book full of a large cast of unforgettable characters and a unique storyline then I would highly recommend picking this book up. I am very happy and thankful to have had the opportunity to read it before the release date.
As a side note: There is a bunch of information about Joseph Kony at the end of the book that is worth reading if you don't know much about him and his organization. I really hope that it is included in the final published version as it is very informative.


About the Author
J. W. Ironmonger was born and raised in East Africa. This is his first novel to be published in the United States. His previous novel, The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, published in the United Kingdom, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize and The Guardian's Not the Booker Prize. He lives in rural Shropshire with his wife, Sue. 

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