When Wren Irving's numbers come up in the first ever national lottery draw, she doesn't tell her husband, Rob.
Instead she quietly packs her bags, kisses her six-month-old daughter Phoebe goodbye, and leaves.
Two decades later, Rob has moved on and found happiness with their oldest friend, Laura.
Phoebe, now a young woman, has never known any other life. But when Rob receives a mysterious letter, the past comes back to haunt them all.
With their cosy world thrown into turmoil, Laura sets out to track Wren down and discover the truth about why she left all those years ago.
Flight by Isabel Ashdown was published in paperback on 21 May 2015 by Myriad Editions. Flight is Isabel Ashdown's fourth novel. I reviewed her last book, Summer of '76 here on Random Things in July 2013.
I really enjoy Isabel Ashdown's writing. Flight is an extremely thought-provoking story that explores the darkest corners of motherhood and friendship.
Told in the separate voices of the main characters, and narrated over many years, this is a book that hooked me in from page one and had me frantically turning the pages as the story unfolded with unexpected twists and discoveries that shocked me to the core.
Rob, Wren and Laura; three friends who love each other dearly. Laura is free-thinking and passionate, Wren is quieter and deeper and Rob is the man who they both adore. Despite Laura's life-long love for Rob, she is delighted when her two best friends become a couple. Laura is never excluded from their life, she seems to be the glue that keeps them all together. When Rob and Wren's daughter Phoebe is born, Laura is the obvious choice as Godmother and relishes her job.
Wren is slowly fading away. She feels empty inside, she feels that Phoebe should have been Laura's daughter. Wren feels trapped. Is this all there is?
When Wren strikes lucky on the Lottery, she leaves everything. Rob, Laura and Phoebe don't hear from her, or see her for twenty years.
Isabel Ashdown has created a complex web of relationships featuring these three characters. Rob, Laura and Wren don't need anyone else in their lives, everything they do is centred around them and their friendship. Parents, fellow students and colleagues are not needed.
When Wren leaves, their whole life explodes. Laura and Rob deal with their abandonment in their own personal ways and Wren creates a solitary, punishing existence for herself. When, twenty years later they meet again, the secrets that have been kept are laid bare, along with the pain and sorrow caused by Wren's disappearance.
Wren is a difficult character to empathise with throughout the story and when all the facts are revealed at the end of the book, it becomes even more difficult to find anything to like about her. Laura, on the other hand, is strong and selfless. She sacrificed such a lot so that her friends could be happy yet is still forgiving and loyal. Rob is a weak man who allowed the women to guide him, yet his vulnerability and sensitivity endears him to the reader.
Flight is exquisitely written, Isabel Ashdown is a very accomplished author and has created a complex, yet beautifully woven story of love and relationships that is both heart-breaking and though-provoking. Her characters are imperfect, somewhat flawed but oh so human. The story flows perfectly, and the ending is unexpected yet quite perfect.
My thanks to the publisher Myriad Editions, and the author who sent my copy for review.
Isabel Ashdown was born in London and grew up on the south coast of England. She is the author of four novels and winner of the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition. Her debut, Glasshopper, was named as one of the best books of 2009 by both the Observer and the London Evening Standard. In 2014 Isabel was Writer in Residence at the University of Brighton, where she now continues to teach on their Creative Writing MA.
Isabel is represented by Kate Shaw of the Viney Literary Agency, London. Her fourth novel, Flight, was released in May 2015 (Myriad Editions).
You can find out more at www.isabelashdown.com or follow her on Twitter @IsabelAshdown or Facebook.