Beth O’Leary’s 2019 novel, The Flatshare, was one of my favourite books that year. I also enjoyed 2020’s The Switch.
The Road Trip didn’t seem to arrive with the fanfare of its predecessors but is still an enjoyable read. It unfolds in in two timelines. The present (which involves the very long and fraught road trip) and a period of a year or two in the recent past.The Road Trip
by Beth O'Leary
Published by Quercus
Genres: General Fiction
Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend's wedding in the north of Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.
But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie's ex, Dylan, who she's avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they've totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with three hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can't avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship...
In the recent past Addie meets Dylan and they fall in lust. And probably love. Both come as part of a package however… Addie with her brazen but likeable sister Deb and Dylan with his long-term BFF Marcus.
Marcus is a tortured soul. Narcissistic, a smidge manipulative and well… accustomed to being the centre of the universe.
I very much enjoyed the story of Addie and Dylan’s meeting – she’s caretaking at a house in France that his (wealthy) family has booked, but he turns up alone. The pair hit it off immediately, but he’s not alone for long because of the aforementioned package-deal thing.
Initially I expected the backstory (the past) to be brief, but in reality it becomes the focus. We’re kinda told ‘what’ happens but get a front row seat to the ‘why’.
As the book opens in the present we learn Addie and Dylan broke up in spectacular fashion a couple of years before, though both have unresolved feelings. Dylan apparently broke Addie’s heart by leaving, but there’s obviously more to the story and… though there are (occasionally annoying) hijinks in the present, it’s all about the past – and the fallout of their breakup.
This is a light and entertaining read but there are some more complex issues at play. Whether people can change for example. Whether they can learn from their mistakes. Whether they’re prepared to make the tough decisions to move on or become better people. And then there are some (healthy and less-healthy) family dynamics added into the mix.
Both Addie and Dylan (past and present) are our narrators and again O’Leary creates endearing and engaging characters. The support cast here (Deb and Marcus) are key players as well and each well-written in their own way.
I probably didn’t enjoy this quite as much as The Flatshare but O’Leary again offers a raw insight into human behaviour – the good and the bad.
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary was published by Quercus Books and is currently available.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.