A brief lunchtime encounter at Grosvenor Park, London proves a pivotal moment in the lives of two young adults. Ben barely has a chance to introduce himself to Alice when she is whisked away by her domineering colleague to Glasgow. Not Glasgow, Scotland as Ben assumes, rather to see her irate boss, nicknamed after the city.

This misunderstanding sets in motion a course of actions that changes Ben’s life irrevocably as he becomes intent to find Alice once again…by getting to Glasgow whatever means possible! His loyal friend and flat mate, Dave, is on hand to help, even lending his folding bike to Ben. Before he knows it, he has been encouraged with his grandfather’s unexpected and unusual approval and involvement, to enrol on a charity bike race…one which is cut short by a tragedy within the family.

After the meeting with Alice in the park, he soon sees her again…but the reader (and Ben) is aware that this is a hallucination…one that seems very real and with whom he converses. Gradually her appearances drift further apart until the end when Ben’s childhood trauma is fully revealed and the reason for his supposed mental problems are explained.

Meanwhile, Alice continues to face a gauntlet of verbal abuse about her size at both work and from her parents when she visits them…and inevitably a downward spiral of eating ensues to escape her misery. Her daily humiliation saps her confidence and strength until she is weak, meek and at everyone’s mercy. The ray of hope in her days are Ben’s kind words in the park, a memory that supports her and she even makes up a relationship with him to her family and colleagues…one that to her surprise helps her ultimately and dramatically find her voice.

The daily battles in life take a turn for the positive as the memory of their meeting is the catalyst to changes in both their lives. 

31 Days of Wonder’ is a whimsical novel, often amusing – even laugh out funny at times – whilst also deeply profound and moving. It’s delightfully surprising in failing to conform to convention and become a straight forward romantic story and instead the lives of the two main character circle each other, their separate narratives mirroring but always kept apart.

It is told from a third person viewpoint of Alice and Ben, each entry by them punctuated by either her location, train times or Ben’s location and distance from Alice. Each chapter is a new day, counting up to the titled ‘31’ and with all such counting devices the book easily becomes a compulsive read, which is abetted by the short segments and chapters as well as being written in the present tense.

The theme of self-acceptance is all-pervasive in the book and reflects the author’s own journey to self-acceptance whilst battling with depression during the writing of this novel. After many re-writes over a long time, the author finally achieved the perfect ending…with light, positivity and hope reigning strong. 

This is a charming, beautifully written novel of self-discovery which is engaging and memorable. Definitely not to one miss and I am now keen to read Tom Winter’s other books.

I received a free copy of this book from the Netgalley in exchange for an honest and impartial review. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Publication Date: 10t August 2017

Publisher: Little Brown Book Group UK

** This is the first of many books I hope to read whilst away on my summer break amidst the serene beauty of the Swedish natural world.

49 thoughts on “31 DAYS OF WONDER: A BOOK REVIEW

  1. Annika, I am creating a folder on my laptop for all the books you suggest I should read. Ha! There are so many and I don’t want to forget any! As always, thank you!! This one has been added to the list! 😊

    1. Ahh…that’s great, Tanya! 😀😀 I better write some more reviews then to fill up your folder! I keep a list of books I want to read and also save the reviews separately! Always a pleasure to share book reviews here and hope you get a chance to read sometime…❤️

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book, and an addition to my TBR list. I love the theme of self-acceptance, something I suspect a lot of us could be reminded of. Thank you for sharing your review. Hope you are enjoying your vacation!

    1. Julie, how true about us all needing a bit (or a huge) reminder learning to accept ourselves as we are…this was a thought provoking book and definitely made me look at myself and my ‘silly’ hang-ups…wondering was is my problem and how much energy do these worries drain from me. It is an unusual and tender book…Thank you,I’m having a lovely break with warm sunny weather all the time (although five days of rain is forecast). The swarm of teenagers (my son’s friends) have flown home and normal tranquility restored and my mother and I are off duty! Hoping you’re having a chance to recharge and relax during the summer and that your writing is coming along well…😀❤️

  3. Anonymous

    Well this is definitely one for the reading list and I can’t wait until it comes out in August. This looks as if behind the great cover is a great story. Not always the case in my experience. Thanks for sharing and an informative and well studentships as usual.

    1. Mike, thank you so much for your kind and warm comment! 😀 I always hope to be just informative enough without giving away too much of the plot whilst still conveying the feel of the book. Don’t worry, the striking cover is not a ploy…there really is a wonderful and moving story behind the image and if you get to read this I would be great if you could share your opinion of this. ❤️

  4. Thank you Annika for another elegant and exciting review. You draw me in straight away and I now can’t wait to find out the fate of Alice and Ben. I feel such tenderness for them and hope they find richness and harmony together.
    On my to buy list….as have most of your suggested books been.:)

    By the way, the book cover is excellent, it stops you before you even read a word.

    1. I must agree about the cover; it is very striking and that is what attracted me to the book in the first place! Miriam I am so happy my review pulls you into the book and you could feel a connection to Alice and Ben…they are wonderful unique individuals with such great strong personalities which are gradually revealed and developed through the book. I know you’ve bought books I’ve reviewed before so I would love to know what you think of this one. Wishing you many happy hours reading! 😀❤️

    1. That’s great, Mary! 😀 Enjoy it when you have an old opportunity to read…TBR books are a blessing and a curse…wonderful to have so many wonderful books waiting to be read…just too little time! 😀

    1. Andrea, I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of this…it’s only released later in August and the promotion hasn’t started yet properly. I came across it on NetGalley and was initially hooked by the cover and premise. It’s a joy to share it here…😀❤️

  5. This sounds delightful. A bit of the unreliable narrator in there? Something I’m getting used to in many popular books. I like the theme of self-acceptance, despite considerable challenges both of these individuals face.

    1. Jacqui, it is wonderfully different and not what I was expecting from the beginning! I hadn’t thought of them as unreliable narrators but you’re in to something – their past lives are only slowly and sparingly revealed and this helps the reader to fully understand the motivation behind their actions – up to now! Oh, their challenges are numerous and I’m not surprised they’re damaged and struggled to face their real selves!

    1. Not the same guy then, I guess! 😀😀 No wonder you noticed this and the name is not that usual. I’m having a lovely time in Sweden – sunny and just perfect temperature to enjoy the nature and the lake & sea. I wish you a wonderful break in Arizona. ❤️

      1. Finally arrived in Sedona and a monsoon rain storm . We are gazing at the red rocks in awe . Definitely different plant life Giant cacti abound. Thanks for your comment. More in future blogs when I am back. Happy days in Sweden! ❤️🎶😎

            1. We’re having a wonderful time so far and made many trips around the area with my son and his group of friends from the UK – it was fantastic to see their reaction; they fell for Sweden and didn’t want to fly home!

    1. Thank you so much, Iris! ❤️😀 Yep, this taps into lots of emotions – wonderfully so! Thank you, I’m having a lovely holiday…wishing you a happy weekend! 😀

    1. David, I feel if there is anyone with inner wisdom it’s you…although I wonder is the journey to self discovery ever complete?? A delightful and yes, sweet book . 😀 Warmest wishes to you in all your endeavours!

  6. Self-acceptance and self-discovery are two aspects of living a life of tranquility as, eventually we have to follow this path for inner peace. I think I would enjoy reading this book.
    Thanks for a fantastic review Annika. Have a relaxing break. 🙂

    1. Balroop, thank you so much for your thoughtful and incisive comment…it’s not always easy to undertake and complete these journeys into ones inner self, but I agree, eventually so necessary. Luckily the two characters here are relatively young when coming to this wisdom! A rewarding read and one I’m sure you’d enjoy. Wishing you a lovely weekend! 😀 Oh yes, I’m having a wonderfully relaxing break, albeit it busy at the moment with my son’s friend’s arrival yesterday! I still think they’re stunned by this oasis in the forest…loving the long walks, lakes etc.

    1. Yeah! 😀 Well, as you can tell this is one I highly recommend and if you do read it I would love to know your opinion about the book! 😀 So glad to be of help – it is always a delight to share books here on WP!

    1. Thank you, Debby and perfect for when you’re in the mood for the light and whimsical! 😀 If you get a chance to read I’d love to know what you think of it. Wishing you a lovely weekend! ❤️

    1. Many thanks, Bette! 😀❤️ Having a lovely break, albeit very busy at the moment with my son’s friends visiting for a few days!! Showing them all the sights! Hope you’re having a peaceful Saturday.

  7. Your reviews always make me want to buy books, Annika. This sounds wonderful and every once in a while, it’s nice to read a story that ends with light, positivity, and hope. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. I totally agree, Jill! A unique cover and its striking image is what attracted me to the book in the first place (I know it shouldn’t be so!). A wonderfully touching read…just perfect for the holiday. Having lots of fun so far, keeping very busy with visitors!

    1. Sharon, you’ve nailed this in one sentence! 😀😀 Such an uplifting read…I thought I needed a change after these gentle thoughtful books and I’ve just finished a thriller! Review coming August…Many thanks for your lovely comment. Sharon, I read your post abut your mother on my email last week but can’t get enough signal to open and comment yet…so much I want to say, for now my thoughts are with you. Warmest wishes and hugs xx❤️

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