Author: Charlie Laidlaw
Published: May 2021 by Ringwood Publishing
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Literary, Book Review
Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.
But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.
Carole Gunn feels in a rut and it’s taken her by surprise. She loves her daughter and supposes she feels the same about her husband. But everything seems to fall into the same old routine…familiar conversations, mannerisms, the TV programmes they watch. Carole feels redundant and somehow that she’s missing out. Her daughter is all but independent and doesn’t appreciate her mother. Her husband has his career, traveling abroad on occasion, and Carole wonders if he really was in New York as he claimed. Beyond the mutinae of household tasks that map out her life, there’s nothing. Would anyone actually notice if she wasn’t there?
Before she became a mother, Carole had a job she loved as a junior lecturer in archaeology at Edinburgh University, leading digs at ancient sites on Orkney and Shetland. She loved uncovering the past and her future was bright with promise.
She was a good teacher, a valued member of the faculty team, and something of an expert on stone circles and the mysterious people who once inhabited Scotland. It was a job that she loved, instilling her passion in her students, and was forever ecstatic when her young team uncovered even a fragment of pottery. It was a job that was all about making sense of the past, reaching back into history and piecing the fragments of long-dead live together. It was a job that fulfilled her, gave her purpose, and which she had all too easily cast aside.
Everyday Magic is told in the third person present tense from Carole’s perspective, and includes flashbacks from Carole’s recollections and memories, giving a good insight into her character.
Deciding to try and make sense of her own past and how she arrived where she now was, Carole’s introspective journey, fuelled by the magical intervention of modern technology, takes her to significant locations, including her student accommodation and the pub where she met her husband. These visits prompt her to address the past and its impact on her present and, more importantly, her future, with clever nods to a famous Dickens novel.
‘while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.’
Charlie Laidlaw’s books don’t follow a pattern, each is unique, perceptive and entertaining. In Everyday Magic he has created an engaging, humorous and poignant story with a relatable protagonist. Well written and researched, I was especially intrigued to find out about the symbolism of Luckenbooths, an object I hadn’t heard of before. The archaeology thread is enjoyable, the plot and character development are consistent, the prose appealing and the flow smooth. As always, the characters are well drawn and the setting vividly described.
A delightful story of recapturing who you are, and the important things that have gradually slipped into the background.
I chose to read and review Everyday Magic based on a copy kindly supplied by the author/publisher.
Book links ~ Amazon | Ringwood Publishing | Amazon US