Written By: J.W. Ironmonger
Published By: Harper Perennial an imprint of Harper Collins Publisher, February 18, 2014
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tour in exchange for an honest review
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.
When I began reading Coincidence I was immediately drawn into the story, told in third person narrative and by an unknown party in the beginning. The reader then learns that the story is a tale of many many conversations and retelling of many woven stories.
Azalea’s life is so full of events that seem too similar and too joined to be random events, and her many stories have even Thomas Post attempting to find the mathematical answers to these events.
The story is told in past and present story lines as events of the past are revealed and how Azalea and Thomas meet and attempt to prevent yet more tragedy in her life. This back and forth work very well, and the author has left nothing out of the details in her life, the details are just revealed in a more disjointed order, as she didn’t learn of her own history in the more logical way.
What didn’t work for me was the more scientific and statistical probability methods that Thomas used to debunk others perception of coincidence. These details seems a bit dull and boring as I read.
The story was captivating, but perhaps not exactly what I expected. It was a very quick read. The narration gives you a feeling that the story of Azalea is always moving, changing and there will be a resolution in the end. I would say I liked the book, but I would be careful in recommending it. It’s very difficult to review this one.