Three siblings set out on a journey at the behest of their father as his dying wish. He leaves behind a fishing tackle box containing some photo albums, a bottle of whisky and a secretive note to be opened at their final destination – Islay. The journey from Brighton, however, is not without problems, most particularly that the three no longer see eye-to-eye, the reasons for which become clear as the story unravels.
There is allusion to great drama and mystery by author Jamie Fewery but it can all be guessed at fairly quickly, the storyline as predictable as it is pedestrian. The siblings are equally irritating which is a shame as the premise of three adults having gone separate ways and trying to rekindle their friendships is probably familiar to many and therefore gives the book a certain appeal. Each of the siblings narrates different sections which does add a distinctive take on proceedings but none of the characters are interesting enough to really warrant getting excited about.
Given the length of the journey from the south coast of England to the Inner Hebrides the book feels rushed, the most interesting plot points barely given time to settle before they are back in the camper van and moving north. In quite a rush too is the unrealistic relationship between the barmaid at their father’s wake and Patrick, who within a very small time frame has gone from some barely there flirting at the bar to a full blown romance.
The Way Back is not without poignancy and it is lovely to read a book with a happy ending but it just feels as if it could have done so much more – more tension, more drama, and more accuracy as Jessica manages to catch a ferry at 10.15am having caught the bus from Glasgow Airport to Kennacraig – a three hour journey which only departs once a day at 2.40pm.
Nonetheless, Fewery has an easy-to-read style and a quirky narrative technique both of which will lend this book well to that ‘holiday read’ pile.