The next book to be featured on the Zoe Ball Radio 2 Book Club will be The Day We Left, the powerful and moving new novel from Caroline Bond. The book is released on 2 November and Caroline will be on the show with Zoe on 7 November.
You can win a set of 10 copies of The Day We Left for your reading group. Just visit our Noticeboard to enter. But first, we have an exclusive extract available for you to read. Once you’ve read the book we also have some discussion questions for your group to use.
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The Day We Left
Oli and Joe are identical twins. But they will never be the same.
Lizzie Truman gives birth to her sons at thirty-one weeks. From the start, the differences between the twins are clear. Oli is bigger, stronger, healthier. Joe is small and much less robust, his future inexorably altered by the trauma of his premature delivery.
As soon as the boys are well enough, Lizzie checks out of the maternity hospital and leaves her old life behind.
By the time Oli and Joe are grown, Beth has a new name, a thriving business, and she has successfully raised her sons alone.
But when the truth about their past emerges, the twins are forced to reassess everything they thought they knew about their mother, their upbringing and themselves.
Selection panel review
The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK. Our readers loved The Day We Left – here are some of their comments:
“I was gripped from the very first page of this book. It’s a compulsive and intriguing read. I found it very hard to put down, very much a ‘just one more chapter’ book. The way it was written piques your interest and your curiosity keeps you wanting to know what happens next. It felt like a thriller, a mystery novel but in a softer way. I found myself gasping aloud on more than one occasion. I found myself not wanting to finish the book around the last 50 pages – it took me a couple of extra days to finish it, as I didn’t want it to end – I was so attached to the characters. The characters are so well drawn, they felt real and seeing them evolve over the time jumps was fascinating. The three main characters – Beth, Oli and Joe, all had their own character arcs and developed in one way or another. They were three dimensional, flawed and raw. This is one of those books that I will be recommending to many people and that is the sign of a great book club book! I cannot praise this book enough. I loved it!”
“This book gripped me from the opening chapter and I read it in two days. I loved the development of the story where we met the characters every year on their birthdays. This one day gave an insight into the twins and Beth and how they had changed over the last 12 months without being repetitive. Following the twins from their birth meant that as a reader I could see them grow and watch them develop into men alongside their mother – the ups and downs of all of their lives were so succinctly written. Although I expected a twist, I still found myself eager to read on and discover the secrets from their past. This part of the book – when Beth is reliving the traumatic experiences of her early days of motherhood – were insightful and considered without being too miserable. I loved her friendship with Sabine which I felt was an accurate depiction of friendship formed in dire times. There are so many brilliant aspects of this book and it has a little of everything, young love, family relationships and a twist that creates an almost thriller-esque feel to part of the novel. What also stood out for me was the development of the side characters, I felt like I got to know them all too, despite them not being the main personalities in the story. In my opinion, this book has a wide appeal and I think lots of people will really enjoy it.”
“I loved this novel, the story was well written with great characters. I could relate heavily with the themes of the novel. Disability, being a lone parent and raising children. We don’t have many stories like this and I felt the author did a good job portraying this. It really shone a much needed light on many issues. I’m not sure how I felt about the ending but I think it seemed like the right ending. I would definitely recommend this to others.”
A word about libraries from Caroline
“I still borrow a lot of the books that I read. I find choosing a book from a library shelf less pressurised than from a shop. The choice is equally wide, but somehow less intimidating. I think it’s because, in a library, the sales pitch is dialled down and, as a result, I feel free to wander, picking up random titles across wildly different genres and eras. Serendipity comes easier in a library and is lower risk – I can always take the book back if it’s not floating my boat.
I work better in libraries than I do at home. They are one of the few places that I can escape my other responsibilities and really concentrate. You can’t put on a load of washing or book the car into the garage in a library. Well I suppose you could, but you’d, rightly, be thrown out. The Leeds Library is my favoured work place. All of my seven books have, in large part, been written there, in the beautiful, dusty, aptly named New Room – it was built in 1808. The library also boasts a tea and coffee corner, with biscuits, literary-themed coasters and very knowledgeable staff. I can thoroughly recommend it if you have an eclectic research question or a deadline looming.
Then there’s the broader library network and its role in championing a broad range of books and authors. Over the past six years I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and benefitted from, talking to reading groups – online and in person – seeing my titles being promoted on a different library’s social media threads and, the biggest buzz of all, watching someone borrowing one of my books. (To be totally upfront, the book-borrow incident has only happened once and the librarian knew I was on site and is on-it with her recommendations, so perhaps that doesn’t count.) There is also PLR – the lifeblood of many writers’ bank balances.
And now The Day We Left has been selected for The Radio 2 Book Club. This is genuinely exciting news. Such an endorsement matters a great deal to a writer like myself i.e. not a household name. It’s validation that my novel has a relevance and appeal. And it will, hopefully, help the book to reach a much wider audience of readers. Of all which is a great incentive to keep on writing."
About the author
Caroline Bond was born in Scarborough and studied English Literature at Oxford University. She has worked as a cleaner, a receptionist, a kitchen designer, a market researcher, a company director and a victim support volunteer. She has an MA in Creative Writing. Caroline lives in Leeds with her husband and one of her three children…the other two having grown up and escaped.
Have you read The Day We Left? Or any other books by Caroline? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #R2BookClub.