Alice Jameson had everything going for her: a glamorous job running classifieds at the local paper, a crush on her gay best friend, and a handy little habit of mixing alcohol and diazepam. Oh, and there is the small matter of that mountain of credit card debt that she can’t afford to pay off. It is little surprise then when she begins to experience panic attacks but is there something deeper at play here?
At first glance, Carol Marinelli’s latest novel Putting Alice Back Together seems like a typical chick-lit book with lots of alcohol, random sex and a protagonist heading for a nervous breakdown. But just below the surface is a far deeper tale about redemption and self-acceptance after a lifetime of family secrets, sexual abuse, loss and addiction.
Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about Alice’s first sexual encounters and the ensuing sequence of events that prompted her to leave England at the age of 17. Set in Melbourne, Australia, Putting Alice Back Together begins when Alice experiences a series of panic attacks, seemingly brought about by the return of her best friend to England. In a haze of Valium and alcohol, Alice storms into a relationship with Hugh and begins therapy. As she begins to confront her past, Alice’s world begins to crash down around her when decade-long secrets rise to the surface and shatter her composure.
Putting Alice Back Together is quite a page turner but it was not what I expected. I expected something light and shallow but this book is quite devastating in places.
What I most appreciated about the book was that Alice really developed as a character. Written in the first person, I found Alice quite ignorant and almost offensive in the opening chapters as she attacked the people around her on the basis of their physical attributes or sexual preferences.
I am happy to say that the character (and by extension, the author) was certainly redeemed by the end of the book. Carol Marinelli avoids the temptation to wrap up the story with a neat ending and there are no quick and easy moral lessons to be learned here. If anything, Alice gains an appreciation for the complexities of relationships and life experiences.
With themes of sexual abuse and drug use, this book is recommended for adult readers only. I really enjoyed this book and found it quite difficult to put down. I would recommend it for fans of Carol Marinelli and other romance authors. Putting Alice Back Together is published by Mira Books and is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.