“This is what I want. This is what I’ve always wanted. To be somewhere that stops at nothing. To be surrounded by the pace and rhythm of greatness.”
I am an ardent believer that you can perceive how good a book is from just the first few pages; the way it sinks into you, folding its pages within you, gradually bookmarking its way into your soul. These are the type of books you remember years after, still turning it over in your head in years to come. This is Rebecca Serle’s In Five Years, a book I would crawl back to in the midst of my hectic day, just dying to taste a little more, to know a little more.
Serle has created a wonderful protagonist in Dannie, who has precision tailored into every line of her body. She has worked out everything she wants in life; working as a senior associate in a top law firm, getting married to long-term boyfriend David, who knows her in every possible way, and settling down in the perfect flat in Gramercy. This is until life introduces a complication.
On the night Dannie gets engaged, she has a strange dream of her life five years in the future, where she is living in a different flat, and there’s a different man inside it. He has a strange hold on her, a pull she can’t understand or escape; she finds herself swept into him like the tide.
When she wakes up, she is back where she was, five years previously, unable to shake this future reckoning, and as she moves through the years, she represses this memory deep inside her, this other potential life, until it is all forced to the surface again four and a half years later.
“It rises now, flooding, probing, threatening to spill out of my lips. The thing I have kept buried and locked for almost five years, exposed to this fraction of light.”
The focus of the novel is Dannie’s friendship with best friend Bella, the two as different as night and day, yet so wonderfully encased in the other’s life. Bella flits through life living firmly in the present, while Dannie has her head constantly wrapped around the future. It’s truly wonderful to see a book that shows the beauty and strength of a friendship, with a love so fierce and deep it rivals that of blood.
One of the most profound things the book highlighted was on the immediacy of love. To love is to be here in the present moment, feet firmly rooted to the ground while you embrace the other. It isn’t a projection of one’s mind to the plans and details of the future. This is something Dannie realises as her world crumbles around her: sometimes all the planning in the world cannot stop the inevitable.
Serle’s prose is so powerful that I broke when Dannie broke, her pain reaching out towards me, breaking free from its papered confines, the screaming agony wrapping itself firmly around my body. I lay on the bed for a long time after I was done with the book, my eyes damp with tears, thinking about Dannie and Bella, wishing I could follow Dannie further along on her path yet recognising that her narrative must end, as all good things must.
Review copy provided.
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Rebecca Serle’s In Five Years is a powerful novel about love and friendship, the lengths we would go for to keep it, the depths we are capable of giving, and the ability it has to change us and our paths forever.
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