Title: On the Other Side
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Publisher: Little Brown and Contemporary
UK Release Date: 14th July 2016
Genres: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
A love story like no other, this is the debut novel from Carrie Hope Fletcher, author of the Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller All I Know Now.
Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty-seven-year-old self and the door won’t open.
Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it’s too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow, some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love . . .
On the Other Side will transport you to a world that is impossible to forget. Powerful, magical and utterly romantic, this is a love story like no other from everyone’s favourite ‘big sister’, Carrie Hope Fletcher.
I bought my copy of On the Other Side absolutely ages ago, shortly after I set up this blog, actually, and it featured in my first ever book haul. However, I only got around to reading it in December, just under six months later (gulp), as part of the Christmas SundayYAthon. In fact, the reason I chose it for the readathon was because I felt I really had to get around to reading it after such a long time, and I had the perfect novella to fit with it for the novella challenge.
I’d been really curious to read this book, as I like the content Carrie Hope Fletcher creates on her YouTube channel. I thought the premise of the novel was such a cool idea – reconciling with past secrets, but with an element of pressure added to it, as if Evie was unsuccessful in doing so, she would be trapped forever in Heaven’s waiting room. I thought this aspect of the book definitely differentiated it from other romance novels, although it didn’t take long for Evie to work out what her secrets were, so there wasn’t much suspense, which I had been expecting.
While the way in which the story began was very original, I did find that other elements of the romance was a tad cliché. Evie having to decide between a happy but poor life with her choice of partner, or an unhappy one with money and comfort from her parents struck me as a rather stereotypical choice for a protagonist of a romance novel to have to make. Her harsh, ‘proper’, and money-driven parents, and Evie being the daughter who wanted to diverge from their way of life, felt very stereotypical, and sort of like cardboard cut-out characters.
The ending was interesting, but ultimately I didn’t feel entirely fulfilled. I liked the element of magical realism which became more apparent towards the ending, as I thought it added another layer to the story. However, I overall was dissatisfied with the way the book ended – it wasn’t what I expected, which was nice as I like books that go against my expectations. I just didn’t like the way things went, and although there was eventually a solution, it did feel a little disheartening that it came so late.
Overall, I did somewhat enjoy On the Other Side, as it was an original idea with an interesting ending. However, I found some elements of it cliché, and ultimately thought the end of Evie’s life (if not the story) was rather disheartening.