Love Notes for Freddie by Eva Rice
We don't have long. Dancers are like dragonflies - in one day, dead in the water the next. Love Notes for Freddie is a rich, remarkable novel of what happens when three people see an open door.
Marnie Fitzpatrick has a celebrated, dysfunctional stepfather, a twin brother who photographs family rows for fun, and has never met a boy that she prefers to a maths conundrum. Yet one afternoon in the company of wayward rebel, Rachel Porter, changes all of that. Forever.
Julie Crewe once danced barefoot in Central Park with man she has never been able to forget, but after breaking her heart and both her ankles, re-invented herself as a teacher at St Libby's - a highly-rated girls' school in Hertfordshire.
Freddie Friday - an electrician in the Shredded Wheat factory - wants to break away from everything that is expected of him, but circumstances and his past imprison him, except when he's moving to music.
This is the story of what happened in the unsuspecting town of Welwyn Garden City during the long hot summer of 1969. It's about first love, and last love and all the complicated stuff in between, that can't be explained by any mathematical equation.
This is what happened when they saw the open door.
From the cover Love Notes for Freddie appears to be a chick lit. It's not, having a toe quite firmly in the literary fiction camp, but not wholly immersed as the brilliant characterisation and firm plot show. Set in the not-too-distant past the story follows two women, and their coming of age. In differing ways they are both in the throes of first love. For Marnie it's new and heart fluttering, for Miss Crewe it's old and heartbreaking and still too much a part of her life even years afterwards. Their stories are almost mirror images with subtle differences and the twin theme is explored in several ways, both literally and figuratively.
This is not a light read but it is enlightening and is certainly uplifting. The imagery is exquisite and at times the author's insights, skilled turns of phrase and descriptions made me pause. I read with total concentration as lost in the story as Marnie and Miss Crewe were lost in themselves.