About the Book
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.
Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.
Format: Paperback Publisher: Ringwood Publishing
Publication date: 26th May 2021 Genre: Fiction
Find Everyday Magic on Goodreads
I was first introduced to the writing of Charlie Laidlaw when I read his book The Things We Learn When We’re Dead so when he contacted me to let me know he had a new book on the way I was delighted to take up his offer of a digital review copy.
As Everyday Magic opens, Carole (with an ‘e’) finds herself not so much at a crossroads in her life as at a dead end. She feels ‘tethered’ to her home and family, and rather undervalued by her husband Ray and daughter Iona. She idly wonders if they would even notice if she just disappeared – until of course they ran out of food or clean clothes. I think many of us with domestic responsibilities have had the same thought at some point! Carole also feels in an emotional rut, the shiny sparkle of her marriage now tarnished by routine. As she observes, her love for Ray has become an ‘assumption rather than a fact’.
Her reflections on how her life might have turned out had she made different decisions brought to mind Robert Frost’s well-known poem ‘The Road Not Taken’. Carole’s solution to her current malaise is to revisit places from her past – the Edinburgh flat she lived in as an undergraduate, the pub where she first met her husband, her childhood home. It’s much like what she did in her former career as an archaeologist trying to ‘stitch together the lives of long-dead people from fragments of artefacts’. However, before long Carole has the strange sensation that her journey into her past is being steered by forces outside her control. Might that explain the objects that keep turning up in unexpected places, or the chance meeting with a former colleague that opens up the possibility of a different future for Carole?
The book has plenty of humorous touches such as the accident involving Granny and its aftermath. (Trust me, it is funny!) Or Carole’s admiration for the husky-voiced ‘sat nav lady’ who, unlike Carole, never seems uncertain about which fork in the road to take and who, Carole imagines, enjoys a glamorous lifestyle between trips. And, like me, devoted fans of a famous seasonal work by Charles Dickens will have fun spotting the subtle allusions to characters and events in that book, a graveyard revelation being one of my favourites.
Everyday Magic is a heartwarming story about rediscovering what really matters in life and the importance of treasuring the people who mean the most to you while you can.
In three words: Intimate, insightful, engaging
Try something similar: Saving Missy by Beth Morrey
About the Author
Charlie writes: ‘I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste. I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece. I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini. Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian.’ (Photo credit: Author website)