Why we love it: Shari Low brings us a story of grown-up love and relationships, with all their highs lows and surprising entanglements. Flipping between past and present, his perspective and hers, The Story of Our Life is a funny, wry and poignant journey from the heady joy of young love to the complications of married life. Shari Low has taken a likeable couple in refreshingly relatable directions.
Colm and Shauna have been happily married for fifteen years. Sure they work too much. And parenthood and running your own business get in the way of romance. But they are still as much in love as those first few weeks, when they each knew they’d met ‘the one’. But, with their best friends Dan and Lulu’s marriage about to blow sky high and Colm suffering from worrying headaches, things are about to change. So the question is, can love at first sight really last forever?
Shari Low has a light but assured touch as she slips effortlessly between Colm and Shauna’s perspectives, then and now – each picking up where the other left off. From the meet-cute (Colm) to meet-the-parents (Shauna). All leading up to a relationship crisis that will – we are told early on – reveal her husband’s infidelity and even a death.
But Low has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. The dual perspective and time slips give lots of scope for surprise realisations and a more nuanced understanding of relationships. At first glance Colm and Shauna seem like the most together of their tight friendship group – Dan and Lulu’s affairs and melodrama, Rosie’s relationships that never make it past the two-year mark – but, like all couples, they have their secrets. And when a crisis hits, the clues to how they will cope are buried in the actions of their past selves.
In the opening pages Shauna takes us from her dream wedding. “Happy ever after. Until forever… Before time, like a well-worn yet inevitable cliché, took its toll.” Low is playing with us here. Yes, there are truisms in this book. But the pleasure is in playing with the tropes of young love and married life and showing how, sometimes, love can survive whatever life throws its way. But it’s never straightforward, and that’s the truth. The Story of Our Life is a warm, witty and humorous page-turner that you’ll want to share with your friends.
For much of Shari’s working life she was a nightclub manager, standing on club doors arguing with crazy drunk people in Glasgow and Shanghai. She also ran a leisure complex in Hong Kong, a position that, given her ample curves, made her the fattest health club manager in South East Asia. However, one March day in 2000, she got her first book deal. Ten minutes later she discovered that she was pregnant. Two children, stretch marks and oh-my-God-the-cellulite later, Shari now spends her days writing books, screenplays and two weekly columns for the Daily Record. It’s great… but she does miss the crazy drunk people…