I have had this review waiting a while having listened to the audio book some time ago. Very remiss of me not to share my thoughts earlier, but better late than never. It is categorically not a reflection of the book, more my poor housekeeping when it comes to review writing. For the uninitiated, here is what the book is all about.
About the Book
This is how it begins.
With a near-empty building, the inhabitants forced out of their homes by property developers.
With two women: idealistic, impassioned blogger Ella and seasoned campaigner, Molly.
With a body hidden in a lift shaft.
But how will it end?
What I love most about Eva Dolan’s writing is the way that she is able to take an idea, something so simple in concept, twist it up, tear it apart and bring it back into a story so complex, full of life – and death – and dose it in authenticity punctured with a true social conscience, whilst keeping the reader enthralled, invested in the characters while despairing, at times, of their actions. In This Is How It Ends she manages all of this and more, keeping readers on the edge of their seat and hiding the root of the mystery in plain sight making you both absolutely certain and yet completely unaware of what is really happening.
The story is centered around two characters, Ella and Molly, both of whom are keeping a secret, Ella’s secret, about events following on from a party at which Ella is protesting about the destruction of an entire community in the name of gentrification. Something happens, which is explained throughout the course of the novel, but we do not know why or how exactly and it is the discovery of truth which acts as the central arc throughout the book. Now I don’t want to say too much about the plot itself other than Ella is kind of an apprentice to Molly, a woman who has made a career out of campaigning for the under privileged and those she feels are being oppressed, and looks up to the woman. But both of them have secrets and both are bonded by more than this central theme, however this act may be the thing which drives them apart.
Now I will admit that I have wavering feelings about both women throughout the novel. At first I felt for Ella, thrown into something far bigger than her. But there are so many facets to her character that I moved between liking her, then not trusting her and back again with almost each and every new chapter. The more the story goes on, the more you learn about her character, the more of an enigma she becomes. Why and how she came to be a campaigner for civil rights is something which is explored throughout, a fact which helps build an element of sympathy with the reader, her motives seemingly altruistic even if her actions aren’t always matching. Her background certainly makes for grim reading, the expectation and pressure something many can identify with.
Molly I did grow to like pretty quickly, Eva Dolan drawing a perfect image of the seasoned campaigner, her drive dulled by her advancing years and the realisation of all she has lost or missed out on over the years. Her relationship with fellow resident Callum quite touching to read. You get a true sense of her as a person as the pair interact, and despite her being so worn down by the time we meet her she is a character you can get behind.
The construct of the story is quite complex beginning on that fateful night which changes everything for the pair and then told from the points of view of both Ella and Molly. From this point they take different paths, Molly’s story taking the reader onward in the present day, Ella’s taking the reader on a journey back in time, showing us how what occurs really came to pass. If you don’t concentrate, it could perhaps be hard to follow and I must admit that with listening to the audiobook I did have to concentrate not only on who the current narrator was but as to where we are in time in relation to the ‘big event’, something you may want to take into account if flitting about between characters and moments in time sis something your struggle with. I think it would probably have been a lot easier to follow in the book but it didn’t dull my enjoyment at all once i had got used to it.
And as for ‘How It Ends’ … Well it’s quite a fitting ending to be fair and I shall say no more than that. This really is a brilliant story, touching upon issues which are affecting hundreds of households in and around London on a daily basis. The development of what were once estates full of families into corporate and high income apartment complexes which are too expensive for most true Londoners to afford, leaving an entire generation disenfranchised and pushed out of the only homes they have known. If you are looking a book which forces you to confront highly topical and all too common issues, then Eva Dolan is someone who can always be relied upon to provide it. This is no exception, a social conscience disguised as entertainment, hard hitting, raw and very, very emotive. A fabulous book and highly recommended.
My thanks to publishers Bloosbury Raven who provided me with a copy of the book for review. (Actual review – audible purchase). It is available now from the following retailers.