Ella is young anti-gentrification activist and Molly is a veteran of campaigns from Greenham Common to the present day who is living in a London block. They have joined forces to campaign against the block’s demolition and redevelopment of the area. This Is How It Ends begins at what should be a highpoint for them as they have successfully crowdfunded a book on their campaign, but something terrible happens at the celebration party. The way they deal with this event changes everything.
The narrative structure is very interesting. From the point of the event the stories of the two characters are told in alternate chapters. We follow Molly’s into the future and see the consequences of their actions. Ella’s story is told backwards from that night, to see how they reached that point. We learn about both their lives, their involvement in political action and how they became close. Although they are very different characters that they both embody an intriguing mix of toughness and vulnerability. It becomes clear they have been drawn together both by their political interests and a personal need.
I loved the writing and clever structure. It was interesting to see such a rich portrayal of political life, and the different characters each with their motivations. Molly’s backstory, going right back to the 80s, was particularly interesting as she weighed up the sacrifices she’d made.
There’s a great twist at the end which made me want to go back and read it all again. It felt right as it wasn’t only intriguing on a plot level but made me think again about the book’s themes and see everything in a new light.
My thoughts on the audiobook
The two points of view are read by different narrators. I liked the reader of Molly’s first-person narration, though unfortunately she struggled with Ella’s Durham accent and made her sound Scottish!
Ella’s story is told in the third person and I can see why casting it was more problematic. The story is set in London but Ella is from a middle-class Durham family, so what should it sound like? The point of view is third-person subjective. Should it be a representation of Ella’s voice, or her world? It didn’t quite feel like either.
The narration sounded far too posh-southern. If the voice is supposed to represent Ella, it should have her accent. Conversely, if it’s representing her world it should sound a bit more scuffed around the edges. The narrator did do a good Durham accent for Ella’s dialogue but she made her voice very high and girlish and quite unlike how I imagined the tough character of Ella.
It says something about the quality of the writing that I loved this book despite my difficulties with the narration!
Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of London Rules by Mick Herron