Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves which was published in paperback on 6th January 2022. My thanks to Laura O’Donnell at Penguin UK for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy.
About the Book
Some love stories change us for ever.
For the last seven years, Mary O’Connor has waited for her first love. Every evening she arrives at Ealing Broadway station and stands with a sign which simply says: ‘Come Home Jim’.
Commuters might pass her by without a second thought, but Mary isn’t going anywhere. Until an unexpected call turns her world on its head.
It will take the help of a young journalist called Alice, and a journey across the country for Mary to face what happened all those years ago, and to finally answer the question: where on earth is Jim?
Format: Paperback (404 pages) Publisher: Century
Publication date: 6th January 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find The Ends of the Earth on Goodreads
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The book alternates between 2018 and the six years from Mary and Jim’s first meeting in 2005 and his disappearance.
I don’t think I’m alone in being touched by Mary’s determination to continue her nightly vigil, holding her handwritten, and by now rather tattered, sign or by her conviction that ‘love is nothing if not patient’. ‘She will not give up. No. She will wait and wait and then wait some more.’ Alice Keaton, a young journalist on the local newspaper, is certainly struck by Mary’s story. ‘COME HOME JIM. Who knew that three little words could be suffused with such yearning, such pain?‘ It’s a pain Alice can identify with because of her own experiences and this, along with her journalistic ambitions, is what motivates her to befriend Mary and then embark on the search for Jim. In the process, Alice hopes to lay to rest some personal ghosts and perhaps find some peace of mind through helping Mary.
As we learn, it was love at first sight for Mary and Jim, and their early years together were idyllic. Although every couple have their ups and downs, there are soon signs that everything is not quite right with Jim. Mary can’t – or won’t – see the warning signs because she’s so in love with Jim and so grateful she’s found someone who says she is the centre of his world, someone who would go ‘to the ends of the earth’ for her. For a long time, Mary believes it was Jim who rescued her from an otherwise lonely life but in fact it’s the other way around and it was she who rescued him.
When the evidence of Jim’s struggles can no longer be ignored, Mary is determined to help him through it. After all, as she tells herself, ‘Love wasn’t about the moments when you were dancing on the ceiling, it was about picking one another up from the floor‘. And Mary does try, even blaming herself for Jim’s low mood, and seizing on the brief moments when he seems like the ‘old Jim’ as a sign things are getting better. But they’re not. Mary’s guilt only increases following Jim’s sudden disappearance and it is this that fuels her lonely vigil, placing her life effectively on hold. As she remarks to Alice, sometimes not knowing is better than knowing.
The Ends of the Earth is described as ‘at once a love story and a mystery’ but the way those two elements play out may be not quite what you were expecting. As the author demonstrates, sometimes there are no easy answers and life must go on, albeit on a different path than you might have hoped for.
In three words: Tender, insightful, poignant
Try something similar: Lost Property by Helen Paris
About the Author
Abbie Greaves studied at Cambridge University before working in a literary agency for a number of years. She was inspired to write her first novel, The Silent Treatment, after reading a newspaper article about a boy in Japan who had never seen his parents speak to one another before. Abbie lives in Brighton.