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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Our Lives by Ken Kirkberry is the story of four British women who are tightly knitted together yet competitive when it comes to men. They are all good-looking, stylish, well-off. We meet them through the co-protagonist named Debs, as she rides the train from Manchester to London and daydreams, in italicized sections, of the backstory as it occurred in Debs’s mind on the long, delayed trip. The other co-protagonist is a gentleman named Mark, who lives in an expensive London neighborhood a few blocks from the Thames, has a dog named Zeus, and is interested in fine automobiles. Mark is under stress from a pending court trial. The descriptions of London and the cadence of British vernacular will be a joy to both Brits and fans of English settings in general.
As I read of Debs’s train ride and Mark’s meanderings and worries, I felt a slow tension rising. I knew something was developing, but it advanced like a slow change of the seasons, inch by inch. I kept asking myself, “Where is all this going?” The relationships among Debs, Hels, Dunst, and Tee, as we see them in Debs’s train ride daydreams, seem fuzzy as each tries to steal the others’ romance partners. Page after page, I became restless about what was happening until … finally, some shocking answers, which I will not reveal here. Yes, there are answers, but Our Lives by Ken Kirkberry is much less a plot-oriented novel than it is a portrait of pandemic London, its sounds, its styles, and its ambiance. If you love contemporary British culture and its vernacular, and if you love a mind-boggling turnaround, this novel is for you.