I couldn’t sum up the premise of One Step Too Far any more eloquently than the official blurb:
An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life to start all over again? Has she had a breakdown? Was it to escape her dysfunctional family – especially her flawed twin sister Caroline who always seemed to hate her? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?
Emily’s secret keeps the pages turning, compulsively and obsessively, to the very end. The revelation doesn’t make the book, however, the story and the characters do. Snippets of the past from the point of view of Caroline, Ben, Frances, Andrew and Angel are not only engaging, but central to the plot. It is the convergence of these stories (in part) that set the scene for Emily’s apparent breakdown and flight. Her quest to start afresh is both extraordinary and heartbreaking, particularly as I am a mother. I could not imagine leaving my child behind, ever.
One Step Too Far is a strong debut novel. I enjoyed the experience of reading it (in fact, I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a day) and quite liked the writing style. There were so many small observations that drew the reader into the narrative and placed them there. Emotion was finely wrought. I couldn’t decide if the way Seskis hid the secret until the very end was more cunning or clever. Both, probably. When the deception of words became clear, I experienced a surge of anger, but I quickly forgave her. I was too caught up in events and at that point, the story was far from over.
This is not a light novel, despite moments of levity. The tragedy that befalls some characters is shocking and sometimes extreme. But it’s written with a lot of sympathy on the part of the author which I think translates well to the reader. I’ll be on the lookout for another novel from Tina Seskis.