Beverly sidesteps the need to interact with co-workers by working from home. When she must venture outside, she wears earphones so no one will bother her. Social niceties are designated to her best friend and flatmate, Ella.
Beverly would be jealous of Ella’s gregarious charm and high-life, if she didn’t have the security of her long-term boyfriend, Roland, who spared Beverly from the dating scene and gave her a future. Beverly won’t speak for herself because she has a stutter. This is how she carefully arranges her life, until Roland and Ella make plans of their own…
Beverly and Ella are not only friend’s but also flatmate’s and co-worker’s. The two women work as freelancers in the computing industry with their office based in the home they both share. This set-up works perfectly for Beverly as it allows her to get through life without her stutter causing her too many problems. With Ella helping her out by speaking up for her, as long as she can continue to work from home and have Ella back her corner, Beverly feels she can cope with her life at present. Beverly also has Roland in her life; her partner of ten years. Both Roland and Ella are the two most important people in Beverly’s life who accept her for who she is – she can’t imagine her world without them.
But, life as she knows it soon takes a turn for the worst when Roland decides that he and Beverly no longer have a future together, and her carefully crafted world begins to crumble. Ella then drops a bombshell on her leaving Beverly with no choice other than to find her own way in the big wide scary world that waits for her outside of her front door.
I really enjoyed this book, more so than I initially thought I would. There are no major events, no big plot and no twists and turns as such, but rather a very likeable character, in the shape of Beverly. Although Beverly believes she is happy in her limited life, she has to rethink what happiness means when she is plunged into a harsh world of reality when the two people she built her life around betray her. This is a book based on a woman’s journey of understanding that she has in some way been her own worst enemy. By creating a comfort blanket, she has ensured that her happiness has been determined by other people – she has in fact given them permission to control her own life – and, when it is held up for scrutiny, she realises her life has been anything but what she deserves. It takes a stark realisation for Beverly to admit her part to play in her problems, but that is what makes her so endearing as a character.
A huge part of the book is the issue of friendship. Beverly has refered to Ella for many years as her friend. Yet, the more we learn of how the two met and how recent events have developed, we soon come to question the true meaning of this supposed friendship. This particular friendship seems one-sided. Are Ella’s actions that of a true friend and would Beverly had gravitated towards someone like Ella had her university life not been plagued by her speech impediment? These are the questions that Beverly is forced to deal with as she tries to make sense of a life without Ella or Roland in it.
I was expecting a mass of coding speak throughout the book, after all Fiona Pearse is an experienced software developer who writes code for a living, but any terminology is kept to a minimum so that a reader with the minimalist of computing knowledge can keep up. I also think that the co-working situation is handled very well, as it becomes obvious early on that Beverly has only opted for this method of working as a means of hiding her problems with speech from colleagues.
Beverly’s stutter is handled very effectively. There is no reaching for an over dramatized effect and therefore no difficultly in deciphering her words. I can only imagine how hard it is to write such speech, but Fiona manages to achieve it. The result is that it’s readable and manages to highlight Beverly’s growing discomfort in conversations – a discomfort that the reader can’t help but feel an element of on her behalf.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beverly and found myself finishing it in one sitting. It is certainly a book with depth and a fascinating read with a difference, which I thoroughly recommend.
Thank you to the lovely people at Booksgosocial.com for recommending this wonderfully engaging book.
Fiona can be found on twitter at @FionaPearse and on her website at fionapearse.com. Beverly is out now to buy.