“In life we have to size up the chances and calculate the possible risks and our ability to deal with them and then make our plans accordingly.”
Planning, assessing, all is good, but in the end, would you take your chance?
Freya North’s novel Chances is all about the opportunities that are given to us, and whether we take them.
Her 11th book is about Vita. And about Oliver. And Jonty and Tim and Suzie and Michelle and Candy and the old lady.
Vita is happy day dreaming in That Shop, her little gift shop, with no sense of business but full of quirky and beautiful presents and clients who come to browse. Except that it is not hers, not hers alone; she co-owns it with her ex Tim, and when is sharing something with your ex ever easy?
She does have Pear Tree Cottage, her new home just for herself. Her, that is, and the parakeets living in her pear tree and the wasps that come with it.
This woman’s nightmare is another man’s dream. Oliver runs a tree-surgery business and is a self-declared tree geek. And when he comes to inspect this “dangerous pear tree”, what he sees is a tree that needs to be protected. And suddenly, there is a bud, a floret, a chance for something to bloom.
Widower and single-father Oliver has his hands full with his company, but for the sake of the tree, and the crazy woman with a hazmat suit who sees the wasp as a constant danger, he takes the time to tame the wasps, set up wasp catchers while his home was still buzzing with memories of his wife. But he can’t help but see that Vita is not like the other women he sees every day.
“She liked him. She liked the feeling of liking him. She felt light and smiley and too full of excitement to think of anything else. ”
Love is never easy. Vita has an ex who is still very much part of her business, and her life. Oliver has Jonty and a wife he doesn’t want to let go of.
“They did the whole lingering gaze thing, following it with the glancing-away, smiling-knowingly routine. She felt vivacious, a feeling she remembered, she was enjoying the self-confidence, the larkiness.”
But they both know what they are longing for, what every relationship is about. The question is, will they take their chances with everything that seems to be in the way?
“That’s the beauty about love. It’s not about give-and-take – it’s about feeling safe in one’s needs – wanting to be looked after as much as wanting to look after.”
Is it never quite as simple as boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after. With this novel, as well as most other books by Freya North, it is not so much about the destination, but about the journey, and how wonderfully the little stones that are on our path are described. Away from the main story line, here is my favourite quote of the book, which just shows the meticulous detail with which the author describes us humans and our intricate feelings.
“It is one of those moments when Oliver considers how a teenager’s hair can hide a child’s eyes.”
Chances, by Freya North
First published 2011