Here and No

‘Then and Now’ by RJ Gould

Sandy is about to retire following an illustrious career as editor of an upmarket fashion magazine.

Michael can’t retire, he thinks his work to explain the dangers of climate change is far too important.

Jonathan is considering retiring from running his fundraising consultancy.

These three were the best of friends at university before a tragedy wrecked their friendship. They haven’t spoken since.

Fifty years on, they arrange to meet at a reunion. Having reminisced about student life during a wild and self-indulgent era with its heady mix of free love, drugs and ground-breaking music, they share their life journeys since the Swinging Sixties – the successes and failures, the happiness and despair, and their optimism and fears for the future.

The reunion is drawing to a close. Dare they tackle the incident that tore them apart, an event that has brought guilt for so many years? If they are to have any chance of reconciliation they have to, but the clock is ticking.

I first encountered the work of RJ Gould last year when I reviewed his novel ‘Dream Café’ (Very good, by the way, would recommend.)

A fellow male aficionado of the romance genre, both that novel and this one allow Gould to explore the hope and bittersweet experiences which beset lives as people grow, develop and get older.

Here the protagonists are coming towards the end of their careers – or not as the case maybe – and are wrestling with the way society views the Baby Boomers as well as fallout from a long buried event from their youth.

Oddly, perhaps the text which ‘Then and Now’ most reminded me of, however, was ‘Our Friends in the North’. Gould is a jolly writer and one who’s characters burst with joie de vivre but there is a lovely tonal shift in the characterisation which allows him to explore the melancholia and less upbeat experiences of life too.

Having said that, I think Sandy is my favourite. She’s a lovely character. A successful woman, downing champagne and exactly the sort of life and soul of the party person it would be fun to share a glass or two of fizz with.

‘Then and Now’ is another engaging outing from Mr RJ Gould.

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Author Bio –

R J Gould writes contemporary fiction about relationships, using a mix of humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic life journeys of his characters. Then and now is his seventh novel, following The Engagement Party, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, Mid-life follies, The bench by Cromer beach, Nothing Man and Dream Café. He is a member of Cambridge Writers and a rare male member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Before becoming a full-time author he worked in the educational and charity sectors.

R J Gould lives in Cambridge.

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