For twenty years, Laura has been in a marriage that’s not unhappy, but that doesn’t set her world alight. She has in a career that she enjoys and is good at, but she’s never been confident enough to take it to the next level. She’s always dreamed of travelling, but she’s built a life in a small town that she can’t leave behind. She dwells continually on the belief that she could have done more with her life.
Given the rare opportunity to go to a conference in the city, she meets a man with whom she has an instant, undeniable connection. His situation is not dissimilar from her own, and both are harbouring a secret, selfish to break free from their old lives and to have a chance of being truly happy. Richard comes to represent everything she’s doesn’t have. Over the course, of the weekend, their relationship deepens and they have to make the decision of whether or not to make difficult changes and to strike out fresh, knowing that it will hurt everyone but themselves.
I usually really enjoy Kennedy’s work. I know that he usually tackles emotional subjects and his books often provoke quite strong emotions. In the case of Five Days, the themes still definitely got a reaction from me – and I can still vividly remember the story months after turning the last page. However, I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed this latest offering. It makes for quite uncomfortable reading and delivers a stark and uncompromising message.
Essentially, that message was this: Yes, the grass is greener on the other side. No, there’s no way you’re ever going to get over there to enjoy it so you may as well resign yourself to an average life. Ultimately, the chances are that you’ll live your life without ever fulfilling your true potential and without ever being as happy as you could have been if you’d made different choices along the way. But the worst thing of all is that the only one you have to blame for how things have turned out is yourself. This applies to love, friendship, families and career indiscriminately.
For me, the book represented a complete and total lack of hope. So although Douglas Kennedy writes beautifully, as usual, and I really could empathise and relate to the characters, this book was a little too depressing for me. Every book needs a little bit of escapism, and that’s what Five Days was lacking. It’s most definitely not light reading.