Chapters of Life by Tina K Burton

Reviewed by Maria

Tina K Burton's CHAPTERS OF LIFE is an unusual read and somewhat differnt from my usual reading fare of late.  I started reading this some time back and to my amazement, I was unable to just zip through it.  It's jusst not that kind of read, not the speedread friendly fiction of doday.  This is a book to take time over, to linger over and savour.

There's quite a wide canvas here and not less than half a dozen main characters.  The story begins with Jo and Clare, two young women who haven't yet 'settled down' as the saying goes.  Jo reads the tarot cards and has the knack of  making uncannily accurate predictions, sometimes because of premonitions which arrive without warning.  When she meets Clare, her instincts go into overdrive.  The two young women hit it off, strike up a friendship and pursue their dream of opening a bookshop. Their shop quickly becomes the type of retail outlet which is customer friendly and provides a social focus too.  In no time, it becomes the heart of the local community.  The story really takes off when a reading group starts meeting there twice a week.  Jo and Clare, the reading group and a few special customers turn the bookshop into a positive force  in the local community.  The two friends' initiative to start the bookshop of their dreams changes many lives for the better, not just their own.

Tina K Burton is not in any particular hurry to get somewhere - her prose is leisurely and thoughtful, yet simple and beautifully clear.  Her dialogue is uncannily realistic and faithful.  This is a gentle read, yet it doesn't shy away from difficult issues.  It deals with the issues of a young gay man coming out of the closet, a romance between two elderly people, the problems faced by single parents and even the sad and sensitive matter of dealing with the serious illness of a child.  Above all the message of the book is one of hope, the feeling that something good is just around the corner, if friends will only stick together and be there for each other.  Like a good romance novel, it will make you laugh, cry and sigh all within one book.

I'm so happy that I got the opportunity to read this immensely satisfying novel. Tina K Burton is a prolific short story writer whose work has been published in magazines in the UK and Australia.   In many ways, I feel she has it in her to become the English Maeve Binchy, with her easy, humorous writing style and her gentle but firm grasp of issues which are important to people's lives.

Well done Tina, this book is a beautifully worthwhile read..

5/5 stars