Book Club: It Started With A Kiss

Author: Lisa Heidke
ISBN: 978-1-74331-975-8
RRP: $29.99

It Started With A Kiss is the fifth book by Lisa Heidke, and I must say I have been waiting for something new from her for a while. I have really enjoyed what I have read of her, which is all but her first and I would really like to chase that up at some point.

I think what I love about Lisa Heidke’s work is that her heroines are generally everyday average women, mid to late thirties and facing the same dilemmas that any one of us could face.

Friday Jones was not quite what I was expecting from a Heidke heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike her but she did aggravate me at times and I think she brought a lot of her troubles on herself. Friday is a wife of almost twenty years and mother to two teenage girls. Her life has settled into the monotonous routine of extra curricular activities, work and home duties – a feeling I’m sure many of us can relate to. Husband Liam is struggling with the drudgery of everyday life and declares that he’s not sure he wants to be married anymore so moves out of the family home and in with his bachelor brother.

We actually get to see this situation from both Liam and Friday’s perspective which gives us a little insight into Liam, who is quite a selfish pig but still managed to earn my sympathy, at times. His decision to leave was quite spur of the moment and it didn’t take him long to regret it but way too long to try and do anything about it.

Friday was floored by this sudden separation, because though things hadn’t been smooth for a while she never would have thought Liam would leave. They had lost a lot of their intimacy and camaraderie but she thought they could weather the storm, she didn’t think things were that rocky so is completely thrown.

Naturopathy is not really a profession where turning up to work looking sallow and lack-lustre is a great advertisement. People book in to see Friday to get natural help with their health, energy and vibrance so it’s not very promising when these are all things Friday seems to be lacking. She is at an all time low for her self esteem as well, which I think is quite understandable, so I can imagine that someone paying attention and making her feel beautiful would be quite hard to resist.

I found Friday quite painful at times; though a part of me can understand the struggle she was facing I still think most of the problems she faced throughout the story were of her own making. She allowed herself to be coerced into things she wasn’t very comfortable with by her best friend, as well as not being able to stand by her decisions. She spent a lot of the book beating herself up for situations she got herself into.

There is a suspenseful story arc traveling through this one and I must admit it had me stumped – kind of. There were elements that I had pegged from early on and could see coming but I was completely wrong about the big one. I had been so sure I had it figured out only to be ridiculously far off base and I loved that.

it started with a kiss

We see, through the separation, who Liam and Friday were before they married as youngest daughter Evie prompts them to reminisce anytime they happen to be in the same place, and when they are each alone we see them remembering the early days and what brought them together. Getting to know the young Liam and Friday does give us quite an insight into what is going on with them now, twenty years and two kids later.

The girls, I quite liked the girls. They were refreshingly authentic. Olivia is fifteen and everything is about her parents ruining her life by setting boundaries and not letting her do what she wants. I can totally remember myself being like that. The other conversation that struck a chord with me, thought not from personal experience, was the one Friday overhears her having with thirteen year old Evie about wanting to keep their parents apart because if they divorce that will mean she gets double everything, divorced parents will do anything to keep their kids happy.

I was not a fan of Rosie, I could see what she was trying to do but I couldn’t agree with the way she went about it. She and Friday have been best friends for a lot of years, they know each other very well  and yet Rosie spent the entire book pushing Friday into doing things she wasn’t comfortable with because they were the sort of things she would do. All of the time claiming that things would work out for Friday and Liam, which she was jeopardising with every questionable choice she pushed Friday into.

It Started With A Kiss is a mostly realistic look at what can happen in a long term relationship where the channels of communication have been worn away and compromised. Friday and Liam went through a harrowing experience which should have brought them closer together but instead it formed the beginning of the wedge that would drive them apart. Instead of opening up to one another Liam started to shut Friday out, after that the losses started to pile up and with each loss Liam drifted further into himself until he found himself trapped. Trapped in the monotony of everyday life, lacking spontaneity and the sense of support he needed; drowning in the pressures of work and the pressure he has always put on himself to be the good son. Liam decides to chase his dream while he’s out on his own and as he is working on his skit he starts to see how things came to this and was actually quite insightful about it.

Liam and Friday can never escape a role in each other’s life, they have children together. They created life together and so there will always be a connection, and quite often love in some form, but after everything they have been through recently, are their shared history and their children enough?

Heidke did not wrap this up with a happily ever after and a neat little ending which I thought was fantastic, and much more realistic.

It Started With A Kiss is Book #2 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015.

A selection of our lucky readers will be reading It Started With A Kiss as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club so I will be interested to see what they have to say about the book.

Please be advised that there may be spoilers contained in the comments below.

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