Publisher: Sandstone Press
Publication Date: 19th January 2017
The lovely Ceris at Sandstone Press recently sent me a copy of Finer Things by David Wharton and with it came a catalogue of other books they had published. Ceris rather generously let me choose any other books that took my fancy and I was drawn to Wait For Me, Jack by Addison Jones, mainly by the beautiful front cover. I am always a sucker for anything remotely vintage looking. When I read the synopsis I was even more intrigued and so I asked for a copy and Ceris very kindly obliged.
What we have in Wait For Me, Jack is a study of one marriage spanning decades and told in reverse. We do start with a short chapter about how the couple Billie and Jacko get together in the 1950’s, meeting at Billie’s place of work when Jacko takes a job as a writer of product information for a catalogue. We are given only a brief glimpse of their initial exchange on the first day they met and then we are catapulted forward in time to the present day where Jacko and Billie (now Jack and Milly) are both in their 80’s and both struggling with their various health problems.
When Jack very sadly dies (this happens very very early on in the book and isn’t a spoiler) we take a meandering journey back in time over this couples marriage and the various obstacles, heartaches and joys they have experienced in their life together. Each chapter jumps back a certain number of years in chunks from 2-3 years to 7-10 years. Each time we get a snapshot of their marriage and we are drip fed information which then becomes clearer a few time-hops down the line.
Theirs is a marriage that has navigated some extremely rocky shores. Jack has rather a wandering eye for the ladies which results in him getting a lover pregnant and essentially having a child who has to integrate into the family he already has with Billie. They also take parental responsibility for 2 of Billie’s wayward sister’s children. Billie has to put up with Jack and his ways and sometimes feels like he looks down on her intellect and social standing. She does however love him dearly (and he her) and they seem to bowl along through life under the old adage of ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’.
The main draw of this book for me was the reverse timeline. I think if it had been told from the past to the future it would of course have been a perfectly good book, the characters of Jacko and Billie would have made it stand up on its own, but I think it would have lost a certain ‘edge’. To read about a marriage in reverse, the lives of not only the two main protagonists but the peripheral characters is fascinating. Events are mentioned briefly, characters are introduced and you have no idea how and when they entered Billie and Jacko’s lives, that is until you make the next leap of time and land around the time they appeared and all becomes clear. Billie has problems with her legs which are not age related and an ‘accident’ is referred to. You have to wait a few time leaps to find out how and when this occurred. To be fed little details and to have to wait to find out what occurred made for quite a pleasing reading experience.
Jack’s actions do not always make him a likeable character and yet I found I was able to forgive him his failings as a husband because Milly does too and together they make a great team. It’s nice to see a marriage that isn’t perfect and can still stand the test of time. Although it does make you wonder if they remain together out of misplaced duty or routine or whether there is a true and deep love. I like to think it’s the latter.
I found myself thoroughly immersed in Jacko and Billie’s lives and relationship (or Jack and Milly as they are know in older age). It was a very nice touch to come full circle and end the book exactly where it began, with the start of their relationship.
I would very much recommend this book.
Thank you as always to the publisher for my review copy.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx