Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway
At first glance you might write this book off as chicklit with a gimmick – for it is written in an A to Z format with entries under key words and phrases. The longest entries are no more than a couple of pages, and they’re all cross-referenced with an index at the back too. This may seem to imply that the novel could be read in any order by jumping back and forward following the references, however you would miss the layers of nuance and subtlety building up – and a real sense of anticipation that things are going to happen.
Twentysomething Verity works as a secretary in a magazine publishing company and she really enjoys her job. Her parents are dead, and she modestly lives alone in a flat, although as an heiress she could afford better. She’s known her best friend Sally since school, and she worries about her. Sally has become the mistress of a married millionaire – surely it can’t work. Then as Sally’s relationship deteriorates, Verity too falls for a married man.
These relationships are the meat of this novel, but in between them are Verity’s musings on life, the universe and everything. She is delightfully naive and quietly eccentric. Within the first few alphabetical vignettes you warm to her completely. The following is typical:
The first time I e-mailed myself, it was just a joke. To see what would happen. Dear Verity, I wrote, You are my life. Every time I wake up, I wish you were next to me. Nothing is worth us being apart.
And then one click of a button and it was gone. I forgot all about it, but the next time I checked my e-mails, I felt a rush of joy when I found there was one waiting for me in my in-box.”