[ARC] Book Review #14: ‘The Lucky Escape’

Note: A big thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins UK Audio and the author, Laura Jane Williams, for providing me with a copy of  The Lucky Escape in exchange for an honest review.


Name: The Lucky Escape

Author: Laura Jane Williams

Genre/s: Modern Fiction, Romance

Book In One Sentence

The Lucky Escape, by Laura Jane Williams, demonstrates the life of Annie and how one heavy incident encourages her to come out of her shell and be true to herself.

Introduction

Superficially, Annie Wiig has everything – she is engaged to a handsome boyfriend of 10+ years, is a theoretical physicist at a reputed institution, and has a supporting family. However, all hell cuts loose when her fiancé, Alexander, gets cold feet on the day of the wedding and ditches her. Naturally, Annie is devastated and humiliated. After bad days, she realises that she hadn’t been living her life the way she wants. She plans to go on her honeymoon alone. However, an old acquaintance from her teenage days comes up and she brings him along. A vacation on the opposite side of the world helps her get some perspectives in order and she realises that not only she responsibilities for others but also herself.

Themes

Romance

Romance is a major part of the story. It starts with Annie being engaged to Alexander, only to be jilted by him on their wedding day. She ends up meeting Patrick, an acquaintance from her teenage years, and goes on the honeymoon trip with him. In the end, they end up falling for each other. Patrick makes Annie take on a new view of life and Annie helps Patrick come out of his shell that he developed after his wife, Mala, died. Both make each other a better person and compliment each other in the best way possible.

Modern Fiction

It is no surprise that The Lucky Escape is a modern fiction. It showcases the modern times and the struggles and stories of people in recent days. The entire story has been set in a modern setting. The characters, struggles, and solutions are fairly modern. I developed my interest in contemporary fiction at the beginning of this year and it was great to read about modern struggles and topics, from the period I am in.

Finding Oneself

Annie seemingly had it all. However, she still feels like something’s missing. After she was left by her fiancé on her wedding day, she decides to focus on herself and her happiness. Despite the questions and doubts, she invites Patrick on a vacation and goes to Australia. There, she finds herself opening up and enjoying life. She accepts that she was missing out and trying to conform to the societal norms with Alexander. She also accepts her unbalanced relationship with her mother. She comes back from Australia as a whole new person. However, her growth does not just stop there. She takes steps to find happiness, in both her personal and professional lives. We also get to see her taking strides in determining if her career is right along with her relationship with Patrick.

Things to Note

Sisterly Bond

One of the most important relationships showcased in the story is the sisterly bond between Annie and her sister Freddie. They are as thick as thieves and do everything to comfort as well as support each other in times and need. It was really commendable to see Freddie stand up for her sister every time her position is challenged. Both of their love for each other is shown throughout the novel and it is nice to see two siblings getting along.

Forced Diversity

The book tries to enforce some diversity into the story — in terms of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. However, it felt more like ticking the boxes to get it over with. The diversity does not play any role in the entire story apart from being mentioned. For instance, Annie and Patrick goes to a massage place, and the people there introduce themselves by their names and pronouns. Add this to other mentions of the black best friend, the bisexual friend, the friend who wants to adopt and be a single mother, and the sister wanting to fight the unequal gender pay gap (she is 13, by the way). All these could have been developed into a full-fledged narrative to add flavour to the story. However, it only felt like adding a list of instances for the sake of inclusivity and feminism.

These instances are later contradicted by the author herself:

I actually found huge comfort on the age-old tradition of a conventional wedding day and gave in to almost all of them without much of a fight.

Nothing wrong with a traditional wedding. However, do not go on to justify being a strong, independent woman, who does not care about what the world thinks!

He smelled manly. Potent. Paddy Hummingbird.

This one does not settle well with me. It literally contradicts Annie’s monologue of being an open-minded woman, not fazed by the societal tags and labels.

Mental Conflict

The latter half of the story shows Annie second-guessing her decisions and undergoing some kind of mental conflict. While I believe that such a phase was essential as Annie has spent most of her life attaining what the society puts forward to her, the timing felt a little off. The first and the middle part of the story cruised by smoothly with Annie embracing the changes without much trouble. However, after accepting them, she starts doubting her stances later. This can be justified by the fact that she comes back to a familiar setting, where she was not used to putting herself first.

The Ending

As with every other feel-good romance story, I expected a happy ending and I was definitely not disappointed. I was satisfied to see that the story did not end with every piece falling together magically. Rather, the characters are seen to make a conscious effort to make a change and be happy along the way.

Significance of the Title

Laura Jane Williams’ The Lucky Escape shows how the protagonist, Annie Wiig, was living a life based on societal expectations. However, it took one “lucky escape” of being left on her wedding for her to break out of her shell and bring value to her existence.

Final Take

All in all, I am okay with the story. Overall, the story is good for some light reading. If you are into romance stories where the missing puzzle piece falls back together in the end, this one is for you. The gaps I found in the story were outshone by the light undertone and seamless narratives. The characterisations are great and consistent. It is definitely an okay summer read.

There are no prizes for playing it safe. Life is short, and precious, and we get only one. It could end tomorrow. I won’t be the guy who has its end on his way back from the office, thinking about all the could-have-been.

Patrick Hummingbird

My Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You can read my other book reviews here.



4 thoughts on “[ARC] Book Review #14: ‘The Lucky Escape’”

  1. This is a very well thought-out review. I especially appreciate your point about how *forced* inclusivity can actually hurt a story. Unconventional relationships or identity struggles don’t have to be avoided in literature, but they also shouldn’t be squeezed in to “check a box,” as you say. In fact, this is how I feel about a lot of films and shows these days– they often force sexual encounters into the story in a way that’s disjointed and inconsistent with the characters. Like you also point out, sometimes this leads to a contradicting a character in ways that aren’t believable. It’s like the writers think the story won’t be interesting without a one-night-stand! While sexual dynamics and hot topics can bring a lot of value to a story, truly powerful writers don’t need to rely on these to make their stories interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Shiloh! You worded my views so accurately! There are many instances in a story where you can pull narratives. However, mostly books (even tv shows and movies) can sometimes just fail to do so. I get that the story focusses on the main characters. However, just mentioning them without any flavour feels like checking the boxes for inclusivity’s sake. I also believe that we need to truly deconstruct the societal labels before building any new ones. Burying the old ones in order to build new ones is just a way of repressing 100s of years of conditioning. Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  2. Great review and very interesting! I hadn’t heard of this book before and now I would be quite interested to check out some “contemporary fiction” myself, as the books I read usually take place in a completely fictional world or in the past. I also agree that sometimes inclusivity and diversity can feel too “forced”, for instance here in Europe I have yet to meet someone introducing themselve with their pronouns! However, let’s say that this is maybe a necessary step for better inclusivity in our world and in the future, in order to make it a norm for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree – until diversity comes involuntarily, it has to be incorporated consciously. However, it’s when these instances feel incomplete within the story that makes the whole thing feel “forced.”
      But the world is moving forward — slowly but steadily. Let’s hope it will be a norm at some point of time. 🤞🏽

      Liked by 1 person

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