REVIEW: Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser
It’s Zoe and Jack’s first wedding anniversary party. They’ve got an announcement! They’re getting divorced.
Marriage isn’t for everyone – something that Zoe and Jack discovered only after they’d walked down the aisle. Bad timing, huh?
So now they’re stuck together in their once harmonious marital home, neither one of them willing to move out of their lovely house.
With Zoe’s three sisters always wanting a say, and Jack’s best friend trying his best to fix things between them, misunderstandings arise. Tempers flare. ‘Accidents’ happen…
Zoe and Jack are going to be lucky if they’re still alive when the twelve months are up. But maybe things aren’t quite as final as they seem.
Dear Ms. Fraser,
From the blurb, I wasn’t sure which way this book would go. Would it be wacky, or humorous, a mélange of Brit Chick and contemporary, or something different altogether? It starts backwards with a divorce announcement then a “flashback” of the wedding where Zoe is already having doubts. Then back to today and then a glimpse of how they met. The shifts in now v then show what has influenced them, shaped them and made them as they are. I can see why they end up acting as they do, even it at times it’s painful to watch them staggering through the collapse of their relationship.
The style of writing is really British. I can hear the accents. I can see the expressions. I’m in London reading this. And the writing itself is lovely – right to the point and heart of whatever’s being told. Family play a big part in their lives, both positively and negatively and I liked the interactions.
Zoe, never overly enthusiastic about the marriage that somehow just happened, sinks deeper and deeper into the realization that she might have made a terrible mistake. Since her own parents had never actually officially tied the knot and Zoe has very strong feelings about not changing her maiden name, the whole rigmarole and “faff,” as she puts it, of weddings and marriage just turn her off. Now she’s gone and done it. Ugh.
Her mood definitely does not improve when, after The Day, suddenly she starts getting Mrs. Bestwick’d by insurance companies and baby catalogue junk mail. The fact that someone’s ticked a “married” box beside Jack’s name in the unsolicited junk mail center of life – and he’s now getting online ads about life insurance and dying without leaving your family a will and mortgage deals – helps bring her down from the frustration stratosphere but really, how do these companies reach into her life so quickly?! Even her work place gets in on it as she has to fill in new information on the computer and just by unclicking single and clicking married, suddenly life choices and options seem to disappear and it’s got her already with almost 2.3 kids, a dog and no life. Hobbies and interests? What hobbies and interests. Married people don’t have those.
And so the little day to day frustrations and miscommunications and twitchiness of daily life, work life and settling into marriage begin to cause slight frictions that develop into more stress which snowballs into arguments and hurt feelings. Tiny arguments turn hydra headed.
With UK divorce laws and London rent, Jack and Zoe are compelled to continue to live together in the flat they bought (and are still paying the mortgage on) for the next 8 months until they can call their marriage a day. Touchy but it can be done. Except for the fact that some of what precipitated the decision to separate was the little things and it’s these with which they begin to torment each other, deliberately doing all the things which drive the other mental. As the atmosphere moves from tense towards toxic, Zoe begins to feel she might deserve some of what’s getting dished out since she did start this ball rolling.
Zoe is – um – not an easy person to live with sometimes. But then Jack has his moments as well. Still, wow, Zoe inflates some discussions straight into arguments faster than French bullet train. The story really conveys the painful emotions of living in same place with someone you used to love but have changed feelings about now. The sarcasm, the “almost” little habitual things you catch yourself doing then stop. The silent tension then eruptions of anger.
But the feelings are still there. Neither Jack nor Zoe can maintain neutral for long and their emotional thrashings show that they haven’t reach the opposite of love. I like how the book shows all sides of their relationship from how they immediately clicked at their first meeting through the highs and lows. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns and HEA and the person who knows you best can be there in big and little ways as well as hurting you where it counts. In the end, they have to decide what is best for them and not what society expects or their families might expect. They have to listen to their hearts and reach something that works for them. It was down to the wire before they did but they might have finally got a life plan tailored just for them. B