Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: Coincidence

Do you believe in fate? Are you superstitious? Do you believe in ghosts or worry about "cursing" yourself? Me neither...ish.  But I still knock on wood occasionally and I do kind of believe in karma. I feel like a lot of us fall into that camp, and I find it really interesting where people draw the line and what they believe versus what they think is hogwash. I also think we can all fall into the trap of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and thus make our own good or bad "luck." It is for this reason (among others--I also love anything set in the UK) that when I read the description of Coincidence by J.W. Ironmonger, my interest was definitely piqued.

What determines the course of our lives? Chance . . . or destiny?

On Midsummer’s Day, 1982, three-year-old Azalea Ives is found alone at a seaside fairground.

One year later, her mother’s body washes up on a beach—her link to Azalea unnoticed.

On Midsummer’s Day, 1992, her adoptive parents are killed in a Ugandan rebel uprising; Azalea is narrowly rescued by a figure from her past. Terrified that she, too, will meet her fate on Midsummer’s Day, Azalea approaches Thomas Post, an expert in debunking coincidences. Azalea’s past, he insists, is random—but as Midsummer’s Day approaches, he worries that she may bring fate upon herself.

The book opens with the story of Azalea and her mother's disappearance, and I was hooked from there. It jumps right into the meat of the story and is pretty fast-paced from the beginning. I also like how the author sets you up to agree with the main character, Thomas Post, in that coincidences are not as rare as we want to believe they are. As he explains, each person probably has around a thousand acquaintances, and that these acquaintances represent 'one person in every fifty thousand in the UK. But you probably see the faces of fifteen hundred people every day. So you should have at least one chance encounter with somebody you know at least once a month." When you concentrate that number of acquaintances around the areas in which you work and live (instead of randomly distributing them around the country) that increases "your likelihood of a chance encounter to one every fortnight." If you think about it rationally, and run the numbers, most coincidences are easily explainable...but that doesn't keep doubt from creeping in, right?

It is because of this doubt, and because I, like all humans, have the tendency to want to assign order and meaning in an orderless, chaotic world, that this book was so appealing to me. I found myself agreeing both with Azalea, who seemed at times hell-bent on sabotaging herself, and with Thomas, the rational man in an irrational world. It wasn't without faults--the way it jumps around in time and switches tenses was at times confusing--but the good outweighed the not-so-good and made it an interesting, worthwhile read.

I'm curious--do you believe in fate?  Do you still knock on wood or worry about jinxing yourself?

Disclosure: TLC Book Tours provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions and views are all mine.

2 comments:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I believe in fate to some extent, but I also think we are the masters of our own destiny. But I think we are fated to meet certain people and have certain things happen to us... So I guess I am sort of middle of the road as to whether I believe in fate. This sounds like an intriguing read!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Oohoo this sounds SO GOOD! Fate, coincidence, self-fulfilling prophecies ... I'm in!

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.