Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Frost 17-20)
- Title: Then and Always
- Author: Dani Atkins
- ISBN: 0804178526 (ISBN13: 9780804178525)
- Series: Stand Alone
- Published: May 20th 2014 by Ballantine Books
- Format: eARC
- Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
- Page Count: 320
- Source: Netgalley
- Rating: -A
Rachel’s life is perfect. A handsome boyfriend, great friends and the prospect of starting at university in a few weeks means she’s never been happier. But in a single heartbeat her world falls apart forever.
Five years later, Rachel is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy that changed everything. Returning to her hometown for the first time in years, she finds herself consumed by thoughts of the life that could have been. But when a sudden fall lands her in hospital, Rachel awakes to discover that the life she had dreamed about just might be real after all.
Unable to trust her own memories, Rachel begins to be drawn further into this new world where the man she lost is alive and well but where she is engaged to be married to someone else…
I think everyone wonders about the “road less travelled“, even if the divergence in one’s trajectory is not immediately obvious. Whereas in some cases the fork is indisputable and unmistakeable as is with Rachel. With graduation fast approaching and their childhood at an end, Rachel and her friends are gathered at a cafe for a farewell dinner before setting off in whatever direction life carries them, when car ploughs through the front of the restaurant forever changing their easy existence.
Five years later Rachel has no choice but to return to Great Bishopsford for her friend Sarah’s wedding. The accident has forever derailed Rachel’s future plans instead of pursuing a career in journalism as was her plan she ends up working as receptionist. Her education, first delayed then abandoned all together after recovering from her injuries. She has never moved past the loss of her childhood friend Jimmy and chose not to continue seeing her boyfriend Matt. The reunion between the remaining friends is strained and awkward. Having ignored symptoms of what appears to be a larger problem Rachel collapses at Jimmy’s graveside. When she awakens in hospital, it is to a world completely changed from the one she knows.
What if? I don’t know about you, but it has always been one of my favoured “hypothetical” games to play particularly when sparring verbally with my poor husband. When I came across this title in my random book searches under it’s UK title Fractured and was immediately struck by its intriguing synopsis but couldn’t find a purchase link. Reminiscent of 1998’s British-American film Sliding Doors, one of my long time favourites, I put in a request immediately for Then and Always when I saw it on Netgalley. It wasn’t until after I read Then and Always, and wanted to find more by this talented author, did I realize, that it and Fractured were in fact one and the same as the book.
I enjoyed Then and Always with the exception of the times when I wanted to shake Rachel until her teeth rattled, first when she refused to seek attention for a suspicious aliment and then when she obstreperously wouldn’t hold her tongue after the mugging. Otherwise this was a completely engrossing and entertaining tale of second chances and I look forward to reading The Story of Us when it is released in August.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This served her well for commuting into the city, where from the age of 18 she worked in a succession of secretarial positions in companies as diverse as a BMW car dealership to the BBC. Dani spent her two hour commute avidly reading and dreamed that one day she would become an author herself.
When her two children grew up and left home, Dani set about turning this dream into reality and devoted her time to writing. She now lives in a rural Hertfordshire cottage with her husband, a crazy border collie dog and two geriatric cats.