Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Coincidence Authority by J.W. Ironmonger

I still can’t work out what initially drew me to this book. A unique title? A colourful cover? Fate itself? Whatever it was, I’m so glad I found it. The lead character is Azalea Lewis whose life is a string of seemingly unexplainable coincidences. 

Abandoned as a child at a fairground in Devon, she was then adopted by a lovely couple whose missionary work saw them all whisked off to Africa, where their lives were changed forever. 

Now an adult and searching for answers, she turns to academic Dr Thomas Post to explain the startling coincidences in her life. As her story is unravelled, from pre-conception to the present, Azalea makes a terrifying prediction of the date of her own death, can Thomas see past reason and predictability in order to save her.  

This story is unlike anything I have read before and there were two big factors as to why I became so enamoured with it. One: Azalea’s story. I really enjoyed the flashbacks into the past that explored how she came into being, and the unusual events that shaped her life, up to and including her relationship with Thomas. From the British Isles to Africa and back again, I found myself wanting to know everything there was to know about Azalea Lewis. 

Two: the fascinating exploration of coincidence, fate and destiny. It’s something I think about from time to time, as I’m sure a lot of us do. For example, what are the chances of bumping into someone we haven’t seen for years, in a country neither of us live in? Or meeting somebody new and finding out they used to live in the same road as you? 

When I went travelling, I met people from overseas that somehow had mutual friends back in the UK with, or they were from an area near to me in London. I found myself saying, “It’s such a small world!” but is it really? Statistically, is it really that strange an occurrence? Is our destiny already mapped out for us, and out of our control, or are there just big coincidences that randomly affect our lives. 

In the course of Azalea examining her own history; it made me think about fate and coincidence in terms of her fictional life, as well as my own. It is such an open theme with so much scope for interpretation and I loved how it was wrapped up in such an original tale. The Coincidence Authority is a fabulous and truly enthralling read from start to finish. 

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