In all our years of book group, I swear I don’t think a book has caused so much wrangle and debate between us as Together. Even after a few weeks of us meeting to discuss Together, we were still chatting and debating about it on our WhatsApp group.
But that’s the point of book groups; and the beauty of them.
Don’t get me wrong, we all really liked Together by Julie Cohen, with some of us absolutely loving it. But for some of us it left unanswered questions.
For me all the questions were answered. In fact I am in awe at how meticulous Julie Cohen was with her plot planning of this novel. Together is a carefully crafted story; and it is because of Cohen’s expert planning that it has one almighty twist that literally took my breath away. The book is heart wrenching, bursting with beauty, depth and pathos.
Together is the love story of Robbie and Emily; an enduring love that they build their life and family around. Yet their life together is a lie.
When the novel opens it is 2016 and Robbie and Emily are in their old age. The novel then travels backwards in time, where we meet Robbie and Emily in 1990, then again in the 1970s, until we travel back to 1962 when they first meet. I know the time hopping caused some confusion for some of my book group buddies, but for me it was essential to the plot, enhancing its poignancy, ensuring I really invested in the characters. Without the beautifully planned time structure, I don’t think the twist would have worked as dramatically as it did.
I loved Robbie and Emily as characters and as much as I tried I couldn’t work out why the life they built was such a massive lie. And believe me I really tried; endlessly wracking my brain thinking of every possibility, only for me to reject them all. I’m not sure, I might of even considered the actual reason only for me to reject it a few seconds later.
I finished Together weeks ago and both Robbie and Emily are still with me. It’s the same for Lesley, the family friend that recommended I read it. Without Lesley’s recommendation I wouldn’t have suggested we read it for book group. So thank you Lesley! 🙂
Together is a novel that has heart wrenching, emotional gravitas. It is contemporary fiction at its best.