REVIEWED BY KAREN BYROM
It only takes a minute to change everything…
With a high-flying job, a beautiful apartment, a successful boyfriend and great friends, Vivienne Shager is living the dream. Then one catastrophic minute changes everything when she collapses at her twenty-seventh birthday party.
Diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition, Vivi is forced to give up the life she loves and move back in with her mother, Gina, in the small seaside town where she grew up.
Depressed at the limitations her life now holds – she can’t even risk falling in love as doctors have banned stress and intimacy – Vivi puts the little energy she has into trying to discover the secrets of her mother’s past. She wants to know who her real father is, and why her mother broke up with her beloved stepfather.
But Vivi’s mother has kept her own counsel for nearly thirty years, and Vivi’s pleas for the truth fall on deaf ears.
As Vivi gradually settles into her new, restricted life, another story unfolds…
Thirty years ago, Deerwood Farm was a special place for newly-weds Shelly and Jack Raynor. They worked hard to make the farm pay, and their three children enjoyed an idyllic childhood, until tragedy struck and their happy lives unravelled.
Somehow, though, the family weathered the blows and Deerwood Farm is now a thriving centre for good, a place where disadvantaged young folk can find shelter, safety and hope for the future.
Why then does Vivi’s mother want to keep Vivi away from Deerwood and the Raynor family? And what will she say when she discovers Vivi has fallen for Shelley’s son, Josh.
As Vivi’s and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment for the truth to unravel all of their lives…
Family drama, secrets and lies, passion and romance – One Minute Later has all the hallmarks of a great Susan Lewis story. As always, she isn’t afraid to address tough issues – and central to the story is Vivi’s heart condition and the importance of organ transplant.
A second chance at life
Vivi is articulate and passionate in her quest to ensure that not only she, but fellow heart patients, are given a second chance at life. Throughout her struggles, she remains strong, brave and resourceful. Her life may have limitations but she is determined to live it on her own terms.
There are strong parallels with Shelley, who also had to face up to a future different to the one she imagined, and who has channelled her energies into helping others, too.
One Minute Later is an enthralling read where hope, love and compassion balance the darker elements of illness and tragedy.
Yes, Vivi’s plight will move you to tears. And if she can’t persuade you to sign up to the donor register, no-one can. But ultimately One Minute Later offers comfort and hope for the people within its pages. An inspirational, enthralling read.
One Minute Later by Susan Lewis is published by HarperCollins in paperback, RRP £7.99, and available from Amazon.
Read an exclusive interview with Susan Lewis here