After rushing around the members’ homes distributing copies of Cath Staincliffe’s Split Second, I then made a mug of coffee and began reading. I was hooked immediately but began wondering, when was the action going to start? After a few chapters I began to realise that this was a book about morals.
At our meeting in Hilary’s home everyone – from a 21-year-old to some almost 70-year-olds – asked the same question, ‘What if?’
Taking a sip of wine Lucy said, ‘Emma’s character is portrayed well at the beginning, but after years of abuse by her father a holiday and the incident on the bus give her the courage to stand up to him – that’s simply too idealistic for me! And other events are questionable too, appearing fabricated and contrived.’ This statement led to the opening of another bottle of wine and another heated and exhilarating debate.
Margaret W. felt that the court case raised many issues. ‘The conflicting accounts around the events of the crime lead to some confusion and I wasn’t sure what the verdict would be and this initially elicited strong feelings of “what about the victim?” for me.’
Then self-confessed chick-lit lover Kate sat back and gave her offering, ‘There is no doubt the book’s well written with beautifully crafted and believable characterisation. However, it’s too graphic to allow the escapism I love to get from reading so I’m ashamed to say I didn’t finish it!’ This comment took us by surprise as the book had up until that point definitely been given the thumbs up by all despite the various ‘how comes’ that the storyline generated.
Lucy then summed up her position, ‘I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoyed the book, due to the dark atmosphere and quite disturbing themes, but I would recommend it as an interesting read especially for book groups. I think the most important message portrayed for individuals and groups to ponder is, “What would you do?” What made the story flow for me was Staincliffe’s use of deconstructed chapters, swapping from character to character made it an easy read.’
‘Yes it was an easy read in that you wanted to know what happened and the author kept you wondering,’ responded both Hilary and Bev, but both agreed that the themes were disturbing.
Sarah declared she would definitely recommend this book and it is one which will stay in her mind for a long time, leaving an impact on her as only a well-written novel can. Whilst Margaret W. felt there were issues unresolved and the ending was rushed.
This comment took us by surprise as the book had up until that point definitely been given the thumbs up by all despite the various ‘how comes’ that the storyline generated.
After further discussion, we all agreed with Margaret that the author could have expanded on more of the issues which may have helped draw the conclusion out for a more satisfying read.
Sadly time was running out – we do try to keep our round-ups to two hours but we often run over and this time the discussion kept expanding because of that initial question, ‘What if?’ And there were also many others crowding in, such as ‘what would I have done?’ ‘Why didn’t he/she do/not do...?’ We were very late despite being low on numbers that night – which is just as well or we may have still been there.
Although Kate announced, ‘Life is too short to read a book you’re not enjoying and which disturbs you. If it doesn’t uplift and heart-warm, steer clear!’ most of us enjoyed it. We did find some ‘weaknesses’ in the structure of the novel but there are so many discussion points in this book that most of us would thoroughly recommend it, especially to book groups.