Can two people from different worlds be together? It seems that maybe they can. When Ben’s PR company take on Effy’s cause as part of their charity scheme the two seem like polar opposites; Ben, the high flying executive with the fancy apartment and expensive car and Effy, the driving force behind a new charity to fund the set up of hospitals in the desperately deprived Uganda.
Yet despite their differences, these two fall for each other, they fall hard. As with life, the course of true love never runs smoothly. A secret about Ben’s job threatens not only their relationship but all the hard work that Effy has done.
Can Effy and Ben survive this?
Jessica Thompson has only bloody done it again. I absolutely loved her first two books (This is a Love Story and Three Little Words) and I have waited ever so patiently for the release of Paper Swans. The wait was worth it.
Thompson, somewhat ironically, has a flawless way of writing flawed characters. She does so in a way that you cannot help but empathise with them. Ben is essentially a mess. Broken by events of his past that he hasn’t ever dealt with and yet his so called perfect life would lead anyone to believe that he doesn’t have a care in the world. Effy is a beautiful girl who sees the good in everything…until that thing lets her down. She wants things to be perfect, to right and good and when Ben shows a tiny chink in his armour she feels too let down to carry on. It takes the full story for them to both realise perfection isn’t something that you can achieve.
With Paper Swans, Thompson had me chuckling away to myself, getting angry and telling the characters off and also swooning at the loveliness of certain chapters. What she also manages to do is raise awareness of a serious topic. The theme that runs throughout this novel is one of mental health and the stigma attached to it. What Thompson tries to do, and in my opinion does quite successfully, is show that it isn’t a certain stereotype that can suffer with mental health problems. She shows that the world of mental health covers a wide spectrum and none of us are immune to needing a little help from time to time.
The symbolism of swans was really clever especially when used as an allegory for Ben who seemed to be gliding through life seamlessly whilst working his backside off just to stay afloat. And with the swans, who mate for life, representing the ever lasting love that he wants to have with Effy was seamlessly interwoven into the story and once again shows Thompson’s skill.
Thompson’s stories are beautiful, romantic and full of heart but more than that they have the backbone of contentious issues which distinguish her stories from those of her contemporaries.
Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson is available now.