Never Greener by Ruth Jones Book Review

Saturday, 9 November 2019

I've started writing this review whilst only 150 or so pages into the book because there are THAT many feeling towards this book and the characters in it already, and I need to rant.

The book jumps between 1985 and 2002. It details Kate and Callum's intense love affair that began when Callum's wife, Belinda, was heavily pregnant with their 3rd child. Kate was 22 when the affair began and Callum was 39. She was an aspiring actress picking up some shifts at Callum's brother's pub, and he was giving his brother a helping hand. Their affair ended in heartbreak, but is rekindled again in 2002 after a chance encounter when Kate, now a famous British actress, meets Callum again at the school he now teaches at.

I HATE THESE CHARACTERS. Like, truly, deeply hate them.

But I think that the point is to dislike them. The author hasn't created characters we're supposed to like, they purposefully unlikeable, especially Kate.

Kate is so beyond self absorbed. She is irritating and makes harmful and hurtful decisions. It's clear that Ruth Jones is trying to hint at something internally deeper and disturbing going on with her character, but this is never fully explored and we are left knowing that there's possibly something, but without any closure on these enclosed issues with Kate are, we are essentially left with a character who is unlikeable and destructive, not only to herself and Callum, but her husband and daughter along with Callum's family too, and whilst we might get some interesting insight of Kate on set and feeling the burden that people are constantly scrutinising her, we never really see the true reasons why she acts out the way she does.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, but it's telling the wrong story. Kate and Callum are boring, but they have so much potential not to be. Okay yes we get it, they are have all the very good sex and they are basically shagging at any given opportunity - but they have no redeemable or creditable qualities. The only real character of interest for me, is Belinda, Callum's wife.

Her husband has an affair with a stunningly beautiful, and not to mention, now famous, actress. Her background is far more interesting and lends itself to an obvious - and hopeful - re-emergence arc. Even the very brief story of how she and Callum first me hints at a more characteristic heroine than all of what we read in Kate! Frankly, Belinda is far more compelling. She is the wronged wife and so much more of a natural protagonist for women's fiction narrative.

There are no happy endings here. But there is also no big climatic reveal. Just a little bit of realism that portrays the consequences of the of hurt and heartache caused by Kate and Callum's actions. I like that there is no happy ever after for these characters. I like that the ending isn't cheesy. But there is also no sense of emotion moving forward. The book kinda just ends, with a bit of a thud. Whilst the last 100 or so pages have a better sense of pace, it still amounts to, well, not a lot, really.

Having said all that and putting my own personal dislike for the characters to one side, Ruth Jones' writing style is actually effortless and the story does just naturally flow. It was the wrong story, but told well and given the fact that I didn't like the majority of the characters within this book, I didn't not enjoy it, which I think is a testament to her writing skills. The book wasn't cheesy or followed the typical rom-com setup, which is a refreshing change from this genre, and I would pick up another Ruth Jones book because the story of Never Greener was so easy to absorb and get into.

There are a tonne more soppier, love-struck chicklit books on the market, and if that's what you're after, don't go for this one. But if you're looking for a modern twist on a typical rom-com novel, then I think you would enjoy this.

Verdict: ★★★

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