It gives me enormous pleasure to participate in the blog tour for On the Bright Side by Nell Carter. My thanks to EDPR for inviting me to take part. I’m delighted to share my review today.
On the Bright Side
There’s always time for a second chance…
At least that is what people say. But what if it’s true? What if you could walk out the door and build a whole new you, a whole new life?
Clare and Jack are about to find out.
He’s a middle-aged barrister, living life as he ‘should’. She’s a recently divorced dance teacher and mum to a teenage daughter. Change isn’t easy for either of them.
But it’s not impossible.
If they do something BIG, could the next half of their lives be the best half?
My Review of On the Bright Side
Clare needs a new start in life.
Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed On the Bright Side because it is a mature exploration of relationships and the reality of approaching middle age for Clare and Jack that is so refreshing to read. Nell Carter has created a narrative about real life and its ugliness, its beauty, its challenges and, ultimately, its hope, so that On the Bright Side leaves the reader feeling as if they have been given an insight into a real world and not a fictional story. On The Bright Side is a book of true maturity that reflects society with perception and skill.
Although On the Bright Side is perfectly balanced between Clare and Jack’s stories, I found the first person aspect of Jack’s narrative so compelling because usually, in this genre, the perspective is a female one. Having Jack’s innermost thoughts alongside Clare’s story is incredibly effective and I felt I came to know him intimately. That said, I understood and empathised with Clare completely too. Frequently she frustrated me in her relationship with Tim, but only because it felt all too plausible. I found myself speaking aloud to give her advice because she felt so real, and her relationship with her mother could not have been better presented. Grace too, is an absolute triumph. Nell Carter understands teenagers completely, bringing them to life in a pitch perfect way and making Grace so authentic. On the Bright Side is filled with plausible, real, flawed characters that thrum with life and realism. I thought they were brilliant.
Similarly, the plot is totally realistic. These ordinary people are experiencing the kind of life events that so many experience and it is this everyday life that makes On the Bright Side so relatable and affecting. In fact, I found my own feelings echoing the emotions of the characters as I read. Even where things occur that the reader has no direct experience of, they are very likely to know someone who has, so that the story resonates deeply. It’s tricky to say too much about plot without spoiling the read for others, but the whole time I read I kept thinking how genuine the events felt. It is as if Nell Carter has distilled modern life into the pages of her story and illustrated its demands and possibilities to perfection.
Indeed, those possibilities, the impact of others on our lives and our personal growth, our capacity to feel, to be emotionally present and connected, drive the narrative. I loved the themes in On the Bright Side. Nell Carter does not shy away from difficult issues like abusive and toxic relationships, but she manages to present them in ways that leave the reader feeling uplifted and encouraged. To say it again, this book really does feel genuine and heart-felt to the extent that it was almost as if I were watching a real-life documentary rather than simply reading a story. It takes considerable skill to create such an effect in the reader.
I finished On the Bright Side feeling privileged to have read it. It was as if I’d learnt about myself and my own potential and capacity as well as that of Clare and Jack because I found the book enormously affecting. I’m left continuing to think about them and wondering what they are doing now. I miss them!
About Nell Carter
One of seven children, Nell Carter likes to write about the nuances and subtle layers of human relationships, peeling them away to see what’s really going on beneath. Before fulfilling her dream of becoming an author, Nell was an insurance pen pusher, a too-short-to-ever-be-successful model, a secretary and a property agent. She lives in Ascot with her husband and has two grown-up daughters.
Nell is available for interviews and to write features.
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