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The No-Show by Beth O’ Leary

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | General Fiction
The No-Show

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

The No-Show by Beth O’ Leary is published with Quercus and is described as a ‘brilliantly funny, heart-breaking and joyful new novel…about dating, and waiting, and the ways love can find us. An utterly extraordinary tearjerker of a book, this is O’Leary’s most ambitious novel yet.’

There are times in life when you just need to pick up a book with a heart, one that you know will make you feel both happy and sad at the same time. The No-Show was the book I picked up earlier this week for just that reason. There is such vivid pain in our world today and sometimes we just need to switch off a little and be distracted by the magical power of a beautifully told story.

The No-Show is ingenious, a tale that will flummox, anger, upset and delight in equal measure. The stage is set with three different meetups, all dates that were supposed to happen on Valentine’s Day.

Siobhan is a life coach from Dublin who has established business on both sides of the Irish Sea. She frequently spends time in London, coaching and having one-to-one sessions with clients. When business is done, she has a regular hook-up with Joseph but it’s always a night-time tryst back at her hotel which suits Siobhan. She is pleasantly surprised when Joseph suggests a breakfast date on Valentine’s Day. Siobhan likes Joseph but is wary of anything deeper as she carries a deep hurt from a previous relationship, with her focus now very much on her career. She has a packed calendar of clients and is considered an influencer. Her busy lifestyle leaves little space for anything more but Joseph does have that something special. Preparing for a breakfast date excites Siobhan but after a time in the appointed café, she soon realises that she has been stood up. Angered, she swears a pull back immediately from any possible future contact with Joseph while her pride is someway intact. Yet she does ask the question to her friend and to herself – where did he get to? Why did he not turn up?

Miranda has a rather unorthodox role as an arborist and has just started a new job with a local landscaping company. She’s excited and is hopeful that life is finally falling into place for her. It’s Valentine’s Day and she has a romantic lunch arranged with her boyfriend Carter. He is not the type of man she would have normally dated but something between them clicked. He is extremely handsome, always perfectly attired, a gentleman in every way. Could he be the one? Thrilled at the prospect of finishing work early on her first day, she whisks out a change of clothes, fixes her hair and sets off for the restaurant. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes pass by. Miranda sits nervously surrounded by other loved up couples and finally realises that she has been stood up. Cross with herself for letting herself be fooled by Carter she wonders what happened. Where is he and why did he not turn up?

Jane works in a local charity shop. Jane wears specific clothes on specific days and only ever orders the same thing for breakfast. Jane loves routine. Living by set routines makes Jane’s life less complicated. But sometimes situations arise that are outside her normal day and she finds herself on new ground. When she gets an invitation to a Valentine’s Day themed engagement party, Jane knows she needs to attend but can’t face the questions of her assumed single status from well wishing guests so she asks a friend to be her plus-one. Joseph Carter and Jane have developed a friendship in recent times, having crossed paths in a café on a regular basis. In a panic, Jane asks Joseph to the party as her pretend boyfriend. He agrees but on the night he is a no-show and Jane is left alone, fielding questions as to his existence. Jane asks herself the question – where is Joseph and why didn’t he turn up?

Three young women, all with very different backstories and all have one common link, Joseph Carter. But who is he and more importantly, where is he?

Beth O’ Leary has created a wonderful montage of scenarios and stories all very inventively tied together culminating in a story with great emotional depth. As a reader we immerse ourselves in the lives of all the characters, we root for them, we get frustrated by their actions, we get angry by their mistakes. We have an instant connection to each one of them, as they are all portrayed so authentically. We feel their joy and their pain.

The No-Show is a charming, heart-warming and heartrending novel with a very original and engaging plot that will really pull at every heartstring. A smart concept, The No-Show is romantic fiction with a twist, full of surprises that will shock, sadden and challenge your heart so be prepared folks. Recommended by me!

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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