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The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | General Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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Knowing the truth will destroy her…
Keeping it secret will destroy him…

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

The Dilemma is the latest novel from bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back, B A Paris. Published with HQ Stories, The Dilemma is described as ‘an affecting tale of family secrets’ and is a move away from the psychological suspense that the reader would normally associate with B A Paris.

The Dilemma is a novel with a set of characters that frustrated me on many occasions with their inability to make a decision, yet I found myself drawn into their story, watching the events unfold. I shouted at the book, not quite able to comprehend some of the choices made by all involved. The suspense, the anger, the torment coming off the pages was mixed with the love, the fear and the regret of a family about to be torn asunder.

For the most part The Dilemma is set around a 24-hour period. Livia is turning forty and has a major bash planned. When Livia married Adam, 20+ years previously, they never had the celebration that she would have dreamed of, the big white wedding. But over the years, as their two children grew up and eventually spread their wings, Livia pocketed away some money weekly to pay for the lavish party she intended having when she reached her fortieth birthday. Some might consider this quite a selfish and childish act but Livia had her reasons. She was determined to make this day a very special one, a day to remember, one that she would look back at with great fondness, knowing that she finally had her moment to shine, to be the centre of attention.

Adam supports Livia and he is thrilled that her dream will come true. Everything is perfect. The marquee is in place, the caterers are organised and Livia’s day is planned to perfection. But Adam makes a discovery, one that will have a catastrophic effect on everything, on their lives, their family, their love for each other. Adam is faced with a dilemma. Does he let Livia have her moment in the spotlight? Will a few hours of ignorant bliss change anything? Adam is confused, angry, upset with the choice he makes, knowing that he will probably never be forgiven for his decision but all he wants is for Livia to be happy, even if it is only for a few more hours.

Livia, unbeknownst to Adam, has her very own secret which she has kept from Adam. Her intention is to tell him after the party, after the memories are made and the photographs taken. Livia knows life will alter unimaginably for them when she reveals all. Livia has dreamt of this day and nothing is going to spoil it for her.

Livia and Adam met very young, married very young, had two children very young. Life began very rocky for them but over the years they both discovered who they were and grew up together rearing their two, now adult, children the best they could. They have only ever wanted happiness for the other, which really is a central element to this tale. The reality of the repercussions are almost sidelined for this need to keep the other happy. The truth will hurt, but is keeping it at bay for another few hours worth the risk? Both have to face a dilemma, knowing whichever direction they choose will have a huge ripple effect on life as they know it. What would you do?

The Dilemma is a book that I was very unsure about at the beginning, but as the story began to reveal itself to me, I became more intrigued, more involved with the choices being made. Were they realistic? Were they rational? How could a story of this nature end? Could a marriage survive these decisions? Adam and Livia are not particularly likable as individuals. They seem completely self-absorbed in their own bubble and their behaviour is, at times, quite immature. The seriousness of life-changing dark secrets is completely overshadowed by a birthday party for a forty-year old married woman, a mother……..

Communication is key in any relationship, yet here we see two people very much in love, making major decisions independently, both thinking they are doing the right thing. Both carry a very strong underlying suspicion that their choice is very, very wrong. Neither wants to be one to shatter the bubble and to bring their world crashing down.

The Dilemma is very much a story about family and the dynamics of this very complex relationship. I did question elements of the story and the plausibility of the decisions taken by Livia and Adam, but I also had to ask the question, what would I do? I think I know that answer but…..

The Dilemma is most definitely an addictive, frustrating, tense tale, one with pages that will turn at speed as you race to the finish to see the full impact of the final choices made by all involved and the fall out from these decisions. A heartbreaking dilemma indeed.

(c) Swirl and Thread
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