Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did.
Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life.
Faye is left wondering how to move forward – and whether or not Jack’s best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack’s death ripples through the lives of her friends too.
Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him.
Is Beth about to take her own life?
Today I have Sarah Marie Graye, author of The Second Cup, joining me on my blog as part of the books first anniversary blog blitz.
When I reviewed the novel as part of the original blog tour, I felt that it was written with a deep understanding of the problems faced by all the characters.
I felt that Sarah Marie must be close to the main issues she has written about and so have asked her to explain her inspiration for the book.
My initial inspiration for The Second Cup was “the butterfly effect”: the concept that a butterfly flapping its wings could be the beginnings of a tornado.
Its an example of “chaos theory” and the idea that you can be going through life relatively carefree and then a tornado can come along and knock you off your feet. With chaos theory, these tornados can have unexpected beginnings, so they are not something you can plan for.
One example of such a tornado is an unexpected death especially a suicide. Even though we know that were all going to die, when someone takes their own life it shocks and unsettles us.
Id finished university and was working full-time when a friend of a friend killed themselves. I was one step removed from what was happening, but because I was the person my friend chose to lean on, the suicide had a massive impact on my life.
Id never met the person who killed themselves, so I didnt go to the funeral. And I didnt really know much about them and so was finding out about who they were from the point of view of their death, not who they were when they were alive.
Id been diagnosed with depression aged nine and felt I was always more aware of my own mortality than the average person. So the suicide seemed to affect me mentally in a way nobody else was. I found myself dwelling on all the different might-have-beens.
Then, 10 years ago I was rushed into hospital for emergency lung surgery. The surgery didnt go to plan: I needed more surgery and spent the next year in and out of hospital, including a period in intensive care.
When youre in hospital, youre no longer in control of your own life right down to someone else deciding when you eat and when you sleep. You end up spending a lot of time inside your own head with only your thoughts for company.
I found myself dwelling on what would have happened if I hadnt pulled through: if everyone who knew me had to deal with me no longer being there. I couldnt get past the thoughts, so I decided to keep a journal to see if that would help.
My words started to grow into characters and ideas and I realised I had a story to tell. So I decided to study an MA Creative Writing to help me work through my ideas and build a tangible story.
In hospital, the tea rounds help break up the day. Run by volunteers, your cup of tea also comes with conversation and each tea round lifts the mood of everyone on the ward. It made me hyperaware of the role tea plays in British culture and the restorative qualities we attach to it. So it became my motif for the story a symbol of surviving the tornado.
The Second Cup has many characters, many threads and many ideas. Its meant to represent the way our thought processes jump about when were trying to process something unexpected. Its meant to leave the reader feeling a little unsettled, unnerved. The idea behind the tea anecdotes is to help ground the reader, to give them a break from the chaos.
About six months after my novel was published, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I realised that Beth, one of my characters, had many of the same symptoms and so I wanted for her to be diagnosed too. So I published an extended edition in February with character interviews.
The interviews allowed me to give closure to the story in a way I wasnt expecting. After finishing The Second Cup, I didnt expect to write again. But since publishing the interviews, I started work on a second book – another butterfly effect story called The Victoria Lie which is currently with my editor and I hope to publish soon.
My review originally published in January.
I would like to thank Sarah Graye and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the ARC of The Second Cup in return for an honest review.
The Second Cup is not an easy read at times, dealing with difficult issues such as depression, suicide and grief. It focus on the lives of a group of friends who have all reached a turning point and face choices that will affect the path they take and the friendship they share. But it is a worthwhile read and an enjoyable one at that. Though enjoying a book which focuses on such issues seems the wrong thing to say, maybe it should be more that it is rewarding and enlightening for the reader.
Despite the difficult themes, it is a book written with a deep understanding of the problems faced by all the characters and gives us all hope that with support and a willingness to accept help, life doesn’t need to be hopeless or futile.
The characters are all well rounded and highly likeable. Their flaws are understandable and help us to see the world from their point of view. The writer makes you care about the characters within the story and avoids the clichéd way some novels dismiss subjects like depression, while remaining open and heartfelt.
The only thing that troubled me was the number of threads within the story. It’s not that it is difficult to follow; Sarah Grayle skilfully guides you through the interactions between the group of friends. I just felt personally that it would have been an even better story, if the narrative was tighter and there was more focus one or two characters, rather than four.
But this is a very personal reaction and not an indication of the quality of the story and the reward gained from reading it. It is an ensured debut and I would certainly look forward to following the writer’s career and future books.
You can buy The Second Cup from Amazon
You can also enter a giveaway to Win 3 x Signed copies of The Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye (Open Internationally) by following this link.
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About the author
Sarah Marie Graye was born in Manchester in 1975, to English Catholic parents. To the outside world Sarah Maries childhood followed a relatively typical Manchester upbringing, until aged nine, when she was diagnosed with depression.
Its a diagnosis that has stayed with Sarah Marie over three decades, and something she believes has coloured every life decision, including the one to write a novel.
Sarah Marie wrote The Second Cup as part of an MA Creative Writing practice as research degree at London South Bank University where she was the vice-chancellors scholarship holder.
Sarah Marie was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2017 and published an extended edition of The Second Cup in February 2018 that included character interviews so she could diagnose one of her characters with the same condition.
The author can be foll