It is the story of the first bloom of love at 14 and its transcendence into a bone-deep longing at 45. And yet, do not imagine this to be an innocent love story. There are bound around the wispy skeins of poetic love the sharper, brighter ones of infidelity and economic recession.
Charles Callahan and Sian Richards were meant to be together. They’d even known that at 14, with a certainty that seems to be a gift to that age. And yet, life had other plans. Plans, that didn’t necessarily match theirs. Until in a rather cruel ruse it gives them the chance to see each other again. A picture in the newspaper and a cascade of memories … Except it’s 31 years and marriage and children too late. And yet, they’re pulled together, these two, trying to recreate their first love, embarking on something that is no less than an effort to walk on water.
It’s curious how she’s written the book, with all of Callahan’s narrative in the third person interspersed with Sian’s in the first, much like a broken string of pearls across grainy white sand, and then there’s the odd flashback taking us into the tentative romance of two 14 year-old’s.
Where or When may be described as the story of two people who find each other after a lifetime apart; of them trying to hold a moment in a cupped palm, trying to make it last a lifetime. But it’s also the story of human emotions and relationships; of the tethers that bind them even as they soar. And of the bitter metallic taste of their corrosion. And while it is, essentially, a tale centred on infidelity it is narrated with no judgements foretold. It is just a story that makes it oh-so-easy to step into the shoes of the characters as a gust of wind raises a well of golden leaves around them that land with a resounding crash.
After all, ‘if you’re skating on thin ice, you might as well dance…’
‘It seems we stood and talked like this before…
We looked at each other in the same way then…but I can’t remember where or when…’