Title: Everyday Magic by Charlie Laidlaw
Published by: Ringwood Publishing
Publication date: 26th May 2021
Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.
But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.
Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.
Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.
A huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book for review!
Everyday Magic is a thought-provoking and uplifting read that takes our main character on an unlikely journey as she sets out to rediscover herself. It didn’t take me long to finish as I was completely engrossed in Carole’s journey from start to finish and couldn’t stop turning the pages.
I always appreciate how relatable Charlie’s characters are and this is still the case in his fifth novel. I definitely felt a connection with Carole and the soul-searching journey she was on. In the present day, she feels her life is very unfulfilled and thinks her husband, Ray, might be cheating on her as he’s always away from home. Also, her teenage daughter, Iona, doesn’t lift a finger to help Carole around the house and doesn’t seem to appreciate how much her mother does for her. Carole’s job now is a housewife and a mother, a far cry from what she wanted when she was younger. It was sad to see that her life and career had seemed to slip away from her without her noticing.
When Carole was younger, she studied archeology at university and was on a promising career path. When her daughter was born, Carole was a junior lecturer in archeology at the University of Edinburgh and was well-respected among her faculty team. Even though it gave her a sense of purpose and she was passionate about her job, she chose to give it up to look after her daughter, which then became her full time job. However, she now feels tethered to her home and family, and that her life has no purpose anymore. This ultimately sets her on a journey to all her old haunts to consider how they’ve shaped her identity and her life now. I loved how detailed these scenes were as it felt like I was right there with Carole, experiencing the same memories. Charlie’s writing is so engaging and it was easy to get lost in the story for a few hours.
Carole decides to examine the small things in her life to understand how she could have given up her own career so easily and discover if her life would have been any different if she continued her career in archeology. This involves revisting the street she first lived in and the shared flat when she was a student, a pub where she first met her husband and other places she used to frequent. She also recalls her first proper relationship and the time they spent together. I liked the memories when she’s on archeological digs because you can see how passionate she is about it and how she throws herself into it. Even in the present day, she’s still retained that passion as she walks around Edinburgh and keeps up with the work current students are producing. Even though she hasn’t been actively involved in any lecturers or digs for a long time, she’s still kept one foot in the door and definitely knows her stuff when it comes to archeology. I’ve only read one other book that involved an archeologist but it didn’t go into as much detail as Everyday Magic and seeing how passionate Carole was about it both as a teenager and an adult definitely made me enjoy the story more and gave me a newfound appreciation for our history.
There’s also some humourous moments threaded throughout the story, mainly revolving around their dead cat. Their cat, Granny, died after being hit by a car and Carole is determined to give the pet a proper burial, but, until she can do so, she decides to keep the body in the freezer wrapped in a Tesco Bag for Life. I don’t think I’ve ever known someone to freeze their own pet before burial like that and it’s funny how Carole seems to think it’s normal to do that. Then there’s also some moments where Carole thinks her Alexa device is speaking to her even though it’s not plugged in and she imagines her sat nav is a real person with a job somewhere and Carole is disturbing her every time she goes for a drive. Those scenes were quite funny, especially with the level of detail Carole goes into about her sat nav lady.
Everyday Magic is an interesting, uplifting and, at times, an entertaining read. I found the ending very satisfying and also heart-warming as you can see how far Carole has come since the beginning of the story. I really enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it.