THE FREQUENCY OF US: A BOOK REVIEW

Are we where we truly should be? Where we belong with those who love us absolutely? These questions are at the heart of ‘The Frequency of Us’, a novel that defies genres and offers in one sweep romance, elements of the supernatural and hints of a ghost.

I was propelled by explosive force into the book as German bombs fall upon the city of Bath on the fateful night of 26th April 1942. Amongst the terror of the barrage of explosions Will Emerson, a young wireless engineer, dashes to rescue a neighbour’s son who is in Will’s radio workshop. Heading back across the long garden he sees his Austrian wife, Elsa Klein shouting a warning to him; a warning he fails to heed and instead, looking up he sees a bomb heading their way … then there is the light.

At this moment Will’s life and those around him are changed beyond one’s wildest imagination.

He awakens to a world without Elsa, where seemingly no one knows of her and his house has returned to its earlier bachelor self.

Already thoroughly hooked by the superb narrative the novel quickly moves seventy years into the future and introduces Laura James, a young woman whose life is defined by her emotional abuse by her father which led to her chronic anxiety and depression. As her first job back after her breakdown which included strong antidepressants, Laura is assigned as a carer to an elderly gentleman, to assess his needs and possible removal from his rundown home. A house that feels haunted. The home of Will Emerson.

The two are opposites in many ways, Will’s curmudgeonly nature almost drives Laura away, yet they are oddly drawn to each other, finding a form of understanding and gradually she becomes convinced his memories of Elsa and life pre-1942 are not signs of dementia but actual events. Laura’s tenacious research threatens to break her down once again and as she meets people from his earlier years, discovers events from the night of the bombing, Will’s and Laura’s lives become irrevocably intertwined.

Throughout a refrain used constantly by Will and one she heard as young from her father runs through her head: “Everything is always happening.” Somehow this seems the key, but how?

At one particularly low point, suffering from suspected severe medication withdrawal side-effects, Laura reflects wryly: “We are not credible witnesses to our own life.” Of course, the truth is far more complex, immersive and emotionally wrought.

As the mystery deepens the author’s deft handling of the complicated strands of the plot creates an intense read. Only afterwards did I fully appreciate all the clever details which foreshadowed the nail-biting final section of the book. I read like one possessed, racing to finish the book yet rueing the moment I would reach its end.

‘The Frequency of Us’ unfolds through a series of alternating first-person narratives of war-time Will and modern-day Laura. These are interspersed with the occasional voice of other characters which reinforce the story, all created with Keith Stuart’s natural flair.

From the first, I was completely enthralled by ‘The Frequency of Us’, hooked by the combination of heartwarming and vibrant romance and confusing conflicting paranormal events. Will, Laura and the myriad of other characters are portrayed with heart and skill, quickly entering my psyche and remaining there.

This is a superb and original third novel by Keith Stuart and as with ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’ and ‘Days of Wonder’, a book that will stay with me and I highly recommend. I’m eagerly awaiting his next book!

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

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publication Date: 25th March 2021

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Sphere

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

109 thoughts on “THE FREQUENCY OF US: A BOOK REVIEW

  1. Annika, this sounds absolutely wonderful! It has all the elements that I love in a good story, drama, romance, history, timelines and a hint of the paranormal. Thank you for this wonderful review. I’ve now put it on my reading list! 😊 xx

    1. Miriam, exactly! 😀 The jumble of genres works brilliantly when by rights maybe they shouldn’t do! The varing timelines and paranormal elements really sold it to me, along with the super characters! Definitely one for your autumn evenings. Enjoy! 😀📖

  2. That sounds like a great book! Thanks for the review. When we traveled to Germany a couple of years ago, I was shocked by the photos of how much devastation there was from the wars. Living in the States, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have a war going on in your own country, since it hasn’t happened here since the Civil War.

    1. Ann, your comment really stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t thought about how ‘used’ we are to seeing the damage both in photographs as well as in real life. My husband remembers the devastation in the late 50s as a child when visiting family in the East End. It took so long before repairs were made here in the UK. Also when I was in East Germany as part of university transfer in the late 80s there were areas still left as rubble and of course, the astonishing Maria Kirche left as a bombed-out ruin as a reminder of the war. Keith Stuart captures the bombing of Bath brilliantly, its horror, fear, noise … he wrote on Twitter that he used the middle photo I show here for inspiration and had it pinned on the wall. By contrast, the Civil War in America is a very long time ago.

    1. Barbara, I hardly dare go on NetGalley as my review record is so poor but when the publishing company contacted me to review Keith Stuart’s latetest book I couldn’t resist. A wonderful treat and I think you would enjoy it very much! Happy Reading! 😀📖

      1. Oh that’s nice! Yes, I’ve only read a few NetGalley books, and have a bunch on my Kindle. I put in requests for some new ones, but was not approved. Probably because I haven’t read the ones I have! Happy Reading to you too! 🙂

        1. I worked out my read : review ratio is 50%; well below the 80% they want so I don’t even dare ask for new books anymore but lucky to be invited to review books occasionally!

    1. Clare, thank you so much – it was a joy to read and review. I’m glad you’re intrigued and I’m sure a book you would enjoy The Frequency of Us. However, I can relate to the toppling pile of books that I want to read – even on my Kindle!😀 Wishing you a wonderful Sunday, albeit it very chilly and a bit grey! 🌺🌻

      1. Thank you, Annika, Definitely chilly and grey for most of the day but I managed to go into the garden when the sun was trying to come out this afternoon and pruned one of my crabapple trees. I hope you’ve had a lovely day xxx

  3. A wonderful review, Annika, and then I became lost in all of the additional information revealed in the comments. More information about the setting and also not wanting to give away too much information. “Defies genres” and the introduction has left me wanting to learn more. “The Frequency of us” is definitely on my reading list. Thank you! Hope all is well.❤️

    1. Erica, thank you so much! 😀 I’m so happy to have piqued your interest in the book and that it’s now on your reading list. I feel sure you will love it just as much! It is always tricky not to give too much away and especially with this book – a fine balancing act! It is wonderful when books defy genres and being pigeon-holed, often making for a deeply captivating, exciting and thoughtful read all in one!

      We are all well, thankfully and my first jab next Sunday (Mother’s Day here in the UK) – can’t wait. BTW I saw your mention of me on your last post – thank you SO much and I will comment in the morning. Wishing you a lovely rest of the weekend and hope you can see some of your family. hugs xx ❤️

      1. You write wonderful reviews, Annika, because you ‘get it’ on the fine balancing act. It is obvious you care about the author, the story and the reader. I am happy you are getting your “jab.” The more jabs, the healthier for our loved ones and the human race. How appropriate, “Mother’s Day.” ❤️

    1. Neil, I once had the figures for books published and those that became successful memorised – the contrast between the two rather disheartening and so true that real gems of books become lost and do not achieve the success they deserve. There are so many elements involved which can all help lead to commercial success and I think Keith Stuart has all these in place. A great book is a perfect starting point!

  4. The jumps between time between the two characters would certainly make it interesting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. Stay safe, dear friend x

    1. Christy, the jumps between the two timelines worked seamlessly, each adding another dimension not just to the story but to the characters as well. Yes, it makes for a wonderfully interesting read. Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment! Keep safe as well, my friend! xx

    1. Natalie, thank you so much! 😀 It was a wonderful book to review and I loved sharing it here … I hope you enjoy if you have a chance to read it. Thank you, it’s been a lovely week so far and hope you’re keeping safe and well. Have a special rest of the week. hugs xx

    1. Ste J, I’m glad to have intrigued you and it’s definitely a wonderful book. It works so well with a mixture of genres, the mystery, paranormal and yes, captures the characters brilliantly, their struggles, love, loss … all the layers adding to the depth of their characters and relationships!

    1. Debby, I’m smiling at the thought of you dashing off to Amazon – it’s much easier via computer than physically going out these days! 😀 Having said that, I long for the day when it will be possible to enter real bookshops again! hugs xx ❤️

  5. That’s a glowing review, Annika. I know the feeling of rushing through a book, only to get upset when it ends.
    I’ve never read any of this author’s work – I’ve never heard of him before. But your enjoyment of this book reached out through this post and intrigued me.
    Great review!

    1. Jina, it’s wonderful how my enjoyment of the book is conveyed through the review and glad it’s intrigued you about both this book and Keith Stuart’s other ones. Oh, that emotion of rushing to the end and not wanting to finish a book is bittersweet – gems of books and ones I recommend to anyone who will listen! Thank you so much for your great interest.

  6. Thank you for this excellent review, particuarly your comments about Stuart’s skill in plotting. What you’ve described take a lot of skill to pull off. The characters and the story sound fascinating! The setting must play an important role as well?

    1. Liz, it’s interesting you should mention the setting – which I had written about in more detail in my draft but didn’t include as the review became too long. I feel the setting is pivotal, the admiralty relocated there during the war and hence part of the reason for the bombing attack on a city that was otherwise of no particular interest. Bath is a wonderful city and for me, a personal connection as this was the last city break before the pandemic that my husband and I had alone in October 2019.

      There are so many plotting threads across different timelines I am in awe of the author’s skill – in his dedication he writes a special thank you to his first ever editor who taught him ‘that the secret to good writing is obsession and detail’. I feel Keith took this advice to heart and it shows in his books!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the review, Liz and thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! 😀 This was one of the more difficult books to review as it was easy to give away parts of the storyline! The tension, on so many levels, built up from the very beginning and never let up. I’m glad to have added to your TBR list! Happy Reading! 😀

    1. Lynette, as usual when reviewing books I started to make notes but in the end stopped as I just wanted to read the book without breaks! Books like this are a real treat! 😀

    1. Anneli, you are so right about the book being packed with different stories and I just couldn’t see how they would all link up – but they do and brilliantly so! It makes for a minefield of reviewing though by not revealing too much!😀

    1. Kamal, thank you so much and I love sharing about books! 😀 It is wonderfully fascinating and captivating. Yes, the title is terrific though I should have clicked earlier than I did about its relevance!

  7. Wonderful compelling review, Annika. All three of Stuart’s books are on my TBR list now, and I just ordered “A Boy Made of Blocks” from our local library! Hopefully, they’ll acquire his other two. Thank you for bringing him to our attention!

    1. Yeah! 😀 Mary Jo, I’m so glad to have piqued your interest in his books and I’m sure you will love his books as well. It’s great your library had his first book in stock. Don’t they bring in the books from other central libraries if they don’t have them there? This is what happens here, sometimes they come from the British Library which feels special! Happy Reading! 📖😀

      1. Yes, we have an inter-library loan library system, but its reach is limited. I’ve lived some places where they go beyond the city, to the state and even interstate. It was always thrilling to get my hands on a first edition, rare or antique book! We can, however, suggest books for the library to purchase; I’m 2 for 2 so far. 🙂

    1. Jan, thank you so much for your lovely comment. 😀 Multi-layered it just the word and I kept wondering how they would all tie together – but they do and most dramatically so!

  8. “I read like one possessed…” What a great compliment for this book, Annika. It sounds riveting and intense. As always, your reviews make me want to snatch it up. I like books like this – that touch of the paranormal, but truthfully, a deep dive into the characters where universal truths are revealed. Great review and thanks for the recommendation!

    1. Wow! Diana, thank you so much for your terrific comment and I’m happy to have conveyed so much of the book through my review! As usual I started making notes of the book but thenk became so carried away I gave up … reading until early in the morning! Oh, I love the phrase ‘universal truths’ and that is so true, at times though the truth is so muddled and confused I wondered how there would be any resolution! There was though and with such intense nail-biting drama!

    1. Thank you so much, Jill. It is a treat of a book and I love all the unusual elements within – lovely to share here! I must admit after enjoying a book so much I have difficulty ‘settling’ with a new right away. Thanks you, we are all very well and very busy with a major project (more later this month!) love & hugs xx ❤️

  9. The WWII time period continues to amaze me and i recently watched a few episodes of a show called “Traitors” and so you book review fits in nicely with that.
    and oh the joy of a book that provides such a lasting impact!
    from your review i could also feel the way Laura likely experienced coping and finding wellness amidst wounds from the past and the supernatural or specialness of her current adventure with Will.

    1. Yvette, what a fortuitous conicidence of the part of the book era matching the TV series! I found a trailer for ‘Traitors’ and wow, it looks intense and something I’d love to see. Luckily it seems available for free on Four – I look forward to the episodes!

      You are right, it is such a joy to find oneself fully immersed in a book – living with the characters and almost resentful when one has to stop reading! Laura is a very emotinally damaged young lady and the author gradually reveals what has happened to her in the past and how such abuse is far often misunderstood and not fully appreciated. The twists and turns of the book, with all the elements make for a wonderful, exciting and emotional time!

      1. Hi Annika, I finished the series Traitors and not sure if I loved it – but liked it enough to finish (if that makes sense).
        And a few parts really stood out
        I would love to compare notes if you get to watch it – so please keep me posted.

    1. Margaret, I see you’re one not to hang about! 😀 I’m so glad the library has this on order for you and you do well to get in ahead of release date. After that I think the queue will become very long. I was once no. 47 in the queue for a popular book – got it about 6 months later! Enjoy the book and I would love to hear your thoughts after.

  10. I’ve not read his previous books, Annika, but this one sounds enthralling. I hate that feeling of not wanting a book to end, but unable to put it down. It happens all too rarely. Thanks so much for pointing me in this direction. Have a lovely week! 🙂 🙂

    1. Jo, books that we do not want to let go of are a treat and the only consolation is that they are with us long after we’ve finished them. ‘Days of Wonder’ is a rollercoaster heartwarming and heartbreaking story and all his books are very different. I was totally enthralled by ‘The Frequency of Us’ – always a joy to read, write and share book reviews here! Wishing you a good start to March — some brighter news here in England which is such a huge relief. Folk almost not daring to believe there can be an end to it all in the coming months. Fingers crossed you can come back by summer. hugs xx ❤️

  11. Dear Annika, your reviews are amazing. Instead of making my breakfast I got stuck into your review of ‘ The Frequency of us’.
    You have pulled me in so strongly that I feel I see and hear what is going on.
    The bomb falling, Will Emerson trying to save a boy but losing his wife and life as he knew it.
    I so hope that through Laura he will find the truth and it will help Laura too.
    Had to go straight in to Amazon to check it out. How can I not buy it?. I know, it will be cheaper later …but.

    Thank you Annika for just sharing such insight and make everything come alive.

    1. Miriam, I didn’t mean for my post to hold you back from your breakfast!😀😀 I’m glad it did though and thank you so much for your wonderful in-depth comment. I’m overjoyed I’ve made the book come alive through my review – just what I hope to achieve! Keith Stuart immediately transports the reader to WWII era and then modern day, a terrific undertaking. I can see you are hooked by the characters already and think you will love the book. Enjoy, my friend! Wishing you a lovely day and Happy Reading! hugs xx ❤️

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