The death of an eighty eight year old woman, Maud Smith is the catalyst for the events in Not the End as in turn we are introduced to Neil, the cemetery manager who is responsible for her funeral, Brenda, the woman who found her body washed up on the beach, Jim, the probate researcher, Elizabeth, Maud's neighbour and Olive, her former love rival.
Slowly their lives become entangled as we learn more about them and their families. This isn't a whimsical fluffy story set in a seaside town, it's a look at real lives and what makes them so complicated at times, marriage breakdowns, sibling relationships, mental illness, deception, jealousy, hope, fear, friendship and love all feature here. Although she never actually appears in the novel, Maud still affects each of them in different ways and often influences the decisions they make. We don't actually discover much about her later life and death but there are revelations about her past which have an impact on a few of the characters.
There are a lot of story threads here and although they often intertwine it did take a while to feel I really knew the characters and occasionally I found myself needing to check back to remind myself particularly who lesser characters were and I warmed more to some characters and their storylines more than others. However, once I had a grip on who was who I enjoyed Not the End very much. It's a thoughtfully written and often poignant without being sentimental look at the often complex lives of ordinary people. Despite the sometimes serious subject matter however, it's not a depressing read, there are enough lighthearted moments to keep the overall feel of the book a positive read and I think one that many people would enjoy adding to their summer reading pile.
Many thanks to the author for my copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Not the End is available on Amazon for Kindle.