Title: Everyday Magic
Author: Charlie Laidlaw
Age Classification: Adult
Publisher: Ringwood Publishing
Release: May 31, 2021
Available Format(s): Ebook
Carole Gunn is a married, stay-at-home mother of a teenage daughter and knows that she leads an unfulfilled life. One day she decides to do something outside her usual mundane routine and revisit a place from her past which prompts an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.
We first meet Carole as a child discovering a clearing in the trees she deems as magical and then we are shown Carole as an adult, living a boring, unfulfilled life that she clearly finds no joy in. Although we only see a few snippets of child Carole, it is clear that the time period of her life has been very influential to the character and is a source of both passion and pain. It is quite the contrast to the almost soulless adult she has become as a result of the path she followed, sometimes by choice and other times by force.
The other version of Carole we see in the novel is as a young adult in university. This is where the majority of the story takes place as we slowly discover what made Carole happy, excited, and fulfilled. We discover past friendships, old flames, mentors and discoveries that made her soul sing.
Carole’s daughter, Iona, is what everyone would categorise at the typical spoiled teenager. From what I interpreted from the story, she has been Carole’s sole focus for many years and, as a result, benefitted from not being required to do anything. As such, Iona came across to me as quite a brat that needed a few reality checks and a massive lesson on respect.
Although Carole’s husband, Ray, is absent for most of the novel, it bothered me that Iona seemed to have all this respect for him and was happy when he returned, but the woman who has been there for her every day is treated as an inconvenience to be suffered through. It also bothered me that Ray didn’t make any attempts to remedy the attitude Iona was giving Carole.
What makes this story interesting is the way we as the reader learn of Carole’s story. The flow of the book is not entirely linear, but that adds to the charm of the story. Sometimes it is simply like Carole is telling us the story as she remembers, other times it is through uncanny unplanned meetings that we learn more about the outcome, and there are a few moments where the title of the book becomes very clear.
I also liked that some elements of the story were in a shade of grey. So often stories display an event or an action as good or bad, but Everyday Magic had a way of showing that many things could be both and that was perfectly okay. It was realistic in that characters could have their moment, do something a bit off, but life went on. Life always goes on, regardless of if we are living it or merely existing, just as Carole was at the start of the novel. It shows how something negative can happen and we then survive off that energy, at first because we have to but later because it had become normal. This story as a whole serves as a wake-up call for us readers to find the sparks of joy we have lost along the way and live while we can.
I will admit when I noticed the non-linear storytelling I was apprehensive as I do not often enjoy this format, but Laidlaw did a wonderful job in writing a captivating story that, despite the time jumps, flowed beautifully. The characters – regardless of my opinions of them – were realistic, unique from one another and fully formed in personality, traits, and habits. Even characters with similar names and/roles in Carole’s life were easily distinguished from one another without any real effort from the reader. My only real complaint was that I felt it took a bit for the story to get going and really capture me, but by the halfway point I was so invested I could not put it down.
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆
I went into reading Everyday Magic with no expectations and was rewarded with a wonderful and enjoyable read.
Do you like non-linear stories?
Let me know in the comments.
Until next time bibliophiles!