If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live in London. I have been there a couple of times and it is such a vibrant city that is always brimming with energy and life. As such, I am also a bit of a sucker for a story set in London.
That is what initially attracted me to reading Paper Chains.
Hannah and India are two women in their late twenties who are running from their pasts, each with their own secrets. Hannah has left her Sydney life behind her, and is intent on punishing herself for the things she has done. India, a Perth girl, is living the bohemian dream of wandering through Europe, and fixing up the broken people in need that she meets along the way. She too has a big secret that she is running to avoid, however she knows one person in particular needs to hear it. This secret is sealed up in an envelope and is also making it’s own bohemian way across Europe. The two women have a chance encounter in London and ultimately form a friendship that changes both their lives.
Although both characters are Australian, and that there are quite a few flashback moments throughout the novel, the majority of the story takes place in London. For me, it is always a thrill to read a novel and be able to accurately picture the settings and surroundings because you have been there yourself.
Ultimately, as clichéd as it sounds, it is a story about the two main characters ‘finding themselves’. However, I feel it is so more than that as well. It is a story about relationships, the importance of other people in your life, and how different people deal with the curve balls that life sometimes throws at them.
This is a bittersweet story, and that is precisely why I really quite enjoyed this novel. Paper Chains made me feel both uplifted and depressed at the same time. There are moments of happiness and sadness that are so well balanced you can almost believe that this story actually happened. Any fictional story that makes you forget for a while that it is in fact fiction… well, that takes a talented writer to be able to do that. It is full of clever humour and poignant moments, and the characters of Hannah and India are written in such a way that their unique struggles are both very real, and to an extent, very relatable.
I read this book over my summer break, and it definitely makes for a good summer read. I would definitely recommend it for lovers of Liane Moriarty, Monica McInerney and Cathy Kelly.
EDIT: Good news for any Americans out there! Paper Chains has just been picked up by Harper Collins U.S. and will be published next year! Exciting! Read Nicola’s announcement about it here.