Usually when we read a book the story-line, characters and plot are revealed by description, conversations and interaction between various characters.
This story is completely different! The whole story is told via a complete set of emails from one person. At first it appeared this may give a very limited view of the story, but as the emails from Jess to Arthur continue, much more information is revealed and alluded to. Arthur is away researching pine trees in a snowy northern wilderness.
Jess begins by telling her friend, Arthur, that there has been a disastrous accident. Her husband, Liam, runs a business called, Spaceco, which sends four people into space for a few hours. The last shuttle to leave blows up and all lives are lost.
As Jess is emailing details to Arthur, more information is revealed. She discovers that Liam has procured some switches cheaply, and if this is discovered, litigation will be a looming menace. The fear of this information being leaked to the Press is enormous.
In Jess’s emails, we also begin to unravel her relationship with Liam and also discover that Arthur is not just a work colleague, but is someone about whom she cares deeply.
As the Press close in on the Spaceco and the family, a persistent film-maker insists that it would benefit the Company if he made a documentary of the shuttle flight, the family and the workers. The film-maker and his wife move in with Liam and Jess and constantly film their everyday life. The stress of living with this man, with his camera always an extension of his arm is enormous.
Meanwhile, a new shuttle has been completed and the Company’s PR suggest that Jess be one of the next passengers to use it as a show of confidence in the Company.
The film-maker and his wife are to join her to complete the documentary. The emails from Jess to Arthur as the launch time approaches are gripping.
I love the idea of filling in the gaps by imagining what Arthur’s replies may have been. Sometimes Jess would reply “No, I’m not mad”, and you understand how powerless Arthur feels to stop Jess from riding on the shuttle.
The last few emails are so tense and amazing that you are compelled to read on and discover the outcome of Jess’s trip, her relationship with her husband and what the future holds for her.