Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger

Length: 304 Pages
Thirty years ago, on the date in June known as Midsummer's Day, a young girl is mysteriously orphaned. Now, after a life of bizarre and troubling circumstances, she becomes obsessed with the idea that she too will die on Midsummer's Day . . . until she meets the one man who may be able to save her.
Azalea Lewis's life has been dominated by coincidences-a bizarre, and increasingly troubling, series of chance events so perfectly coordinated that any sane person would conclude that only the hidden hand of providence could explain them.
On Midsummer's Day, 1982, at the age of three, Azalea was found wandering a fairground in England, alone, too young to explain what had happened to her or her parents. After a brief investigation, she was declared a ward of the court, and placed in foster care. The following year, the body of a woman-her mother-was found on a nearby beach, but by then everyone had forgotten about the little girl, and no connection was ever made. The couple who adopted Azalea brought her to Africa, where-on Midsummer's Day, 1992-they were killed in a Ugandan uprising while trying to protect their children. Azalea is spared on that day, but as she grows into adulthood, she discovers that her life has been shaped by an uncanny set of coincidences-all of them leading back to her birth mother, a single mother on the Isle of Man, and the three men who could have been her father, each of whom has played an improbable but very real role in her fate.
Troubled by what she has uncovered-and increasingly convinced that she, too, will meet her fate on Midsummer's Day-she approaches Thomas Post, a rational-minded academic whose specialty is debunking our belief in coincidence: the belief that certain events are linked, even predestined, by the hands of fate. Even as they fall in love, Thomas tries to help to understand her past as a series of random events-not a divinely predetermined order. Yet as the fateful date draws closer, Thomas begins to fear that he may lose her altogether, and she may throw herself into the very fate she fears.
A warm and romantic, yet intellectually fascinating, story of two souls trying to make sense of the universe and our place in it, Coincidence is an unforgettable novel by a storyteller of masterful gifts.
This post was actually supposed to be up on the 19th, but I was thinking about everything still and decided to write my post while on vacation. That was very silly of me because I never turned my computer on the entire vacation. So, sorry I am late!

I tend to fit in similar 'niches' with my reading... I don't really do 'contemporary' or more modern works. That's not because I don't like them, but more because my reading tastes tend to go in a different direction. I make an effort to branch out from time to time, though. Firstly, it adds some variety and prevents burnouts. Secondly, I may be missing out on an awesome author while only reading the same ol' same. I chose to join in for this tour because Coincidence sounded 'different' from anything I would normally read. I like to think and a book about coincidences sounded like some food for thought.

I have to admit that I do really like books that move back and forth between time if they are done well. There has been a run in historical fiction that takes place in the past and then jumps to the modern period. This book doesn't go quite that far back, but it does use time to frame the story and look at the ideas of coincidences as they relate to Azalea's life. Right from the very first pages you know that interesting things are in store for the reader. Azalea is found at a circus when she is a young child. She has no memory of how she got to be there and this leads to a police hunt into her origins.

I find the idea of coincidences really interesting. I have often thought about things like preordained, free-will, etc. Coincidence is another thing worth thinking about and this is the first time I have read a book where they look into it. It makes you think about your own life and the events in them. Was everything all planned out for you? Are random events, you wouldn't even think about as linked, actually linked? I kind of think I thought about that more than I thought about the actual book. That is partly why it took me so long to write a review about this one.

There are lots of other things happening in this book, but I hate giving away too much about the plot. It was the first I had ever heard of J.W. Ironmonger. This was his first book released in the U.S., I guess. I hope he will release more because he definitely writes about things that will get you thinking amongst things that are a bit more typical. It makes for an interesting mixture.


What are your thoughts on coincidences?


  1. Sounds like this one makes you think -- I bet it'd be a good book club choice.

  2. Hope your vacation was a lot of fun and that you had good weather!

    I have a thing about Midsummer's Eve--I like the way it sounds audibly and I like the way literature tends to make much of it. This books sounds interesting!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. oops! I definitely should have known that. Sorry about that!

  4. The premise is really intriguing to me. I will have to look for this one.

    As for coincidences, I tend not to be a big believer in fate or the pre-ordained. I think I would be able to identify most with Thomas in that regard. There are times though when I wonder and find myself making connections between things--thinking they can't possibly be mere coincidences.

  5. I don't know, sometimes things seem too strange to be a coincidence, like the world is working for/against you/others, and others it does just seem different instead. This definitely sounds a book to get you thinking.

  6. I like the sound of this one! Enjoyed reading your review!


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