Wednesday 19 June 2019

While I Was Sleeping review: 'a warm and memorable novel, with a dilemma at its core, and will appeal to readers of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks'

Fiction: While I Was Sleeping, Dani Atkins, Simon & Schuster, €10.99

While I Was Sleeping
While I Was Sleeping

Margaret Madden

Maddie is dashing around London, gathering the last few bits for her upcoming wedding to Ryan. The loved-up pair are expecting their first child, and the excitement is balanced by Maddie's "small bump" and "baby brain".

She has no idea how her life is about to change: "I'd felt no lurking feeling of foreboding, no presentiment of danger, no inkling that events in the next few hours were going to spiral so dramatically out of my control."

Maddie wakes up in a hospital room. Her memories are fragmented: "They dangled above my head, just out of reach." Her eyes search out her fiance but "the room held no one except the nurse and me. The visitor's chair beside the bed was empty". The nurse explains that Ryan had to leave but Maddie knows she is hiding something. As the memories slide back into focus, Maddie realises her stomach is flat. She is no longer pregnant. Her world spins on its axis when Ryan arrives and explains that she has been asleep for six years; he is now married and has a daughter. While the media share the news of Maddie's miraculous recovery, she is mostly in the dark: "My five minutes of fame had made my life an open book to everyone who'd known me.

"The only person who hadn't uncovered all of its secrets yet, was me."

There is one very large secret about to be revealed: "A ghost from the past, seeking to slip through the veil into the present."

The novel becomes even more poignant as it moves into part two. The reader discovers things that happened during Maddie's coma and it changes how we see her future. The three main characters are divided by their decisions and united by their desire to do what's right.

While I Was Sleeping is a warm and memorable novel, with a dilemma at its core, and will appeal to readers of Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks. Dani Atkins deserves more recognition for her commercial fiction. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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