This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘It’s 1990. The Happy Mondays are in the charts, a fifteen-year-old called Kate Moss is on the cover of the Face magazine, and Julia Roberts wears thigh-boots for the poster of a new movie called Pretty Woman.
‘February Kingdom is 19 years old when she is knocked sideways by family tragedy. Then one evening in May, she finds an escaped canary in her kitchen and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her.
‘With the help of the bird called Yellow, Feb starts to feel her way out of her own private darkness, just as her aunt embarks on a passionate and all-consuming affair with a married American drama teacher.
‘This Could Be Everything is a coming-of-age story with its roots under the pavements of a pre-Richard-Curtis era Notting Hill that has all but vanished. It’s about what happens when you start looking after something more important than you, and the hope a yellow bird can bring…’
In This Could Be Everything, by Eva Rice, we meet 19-year-old February Kingdom at a very low point in her life. Three years previously, she lost her parents in the King’s Cross fire and, more recently, her twin sister Diana died in a car crash.
Living in Notting Hill with her Aunt Ann and Uncle Robert, Feb’s given up on her dreams and everything she used to enjoy, apart from Bruno Brookes’ Top 40 countdown every Sunday. One day, though, an escaped canary called Yellow flies into her life. Feb’s world starts to open up again when she meets Yellow’s owner Theo, who charges her with the bird’s care.
This Could Be Everything is simply lovely. It was so gratifying to see Feb emerge from her self-imposed exile and start living again. It was interesting to progressively learn what her sister and parents had been like, and the book is laced with humour and entertaining characters.
I found Feb to be a sympathetic main character. While I’ve never experienced tragedy on the scale that she has, I could nonetheless understand her initial feelings that life had nothing more to offer her, as well as her fear of the outside world.
The complexities of her relationship with Diana are evident throughout: not unlike the twins in Clara and Olivia, by Lucy Ashe, which I also read recently, they were super-close and devoted to one another, but very different personality-wise.
Diana was a fearless, outgoing character who’d chosen her promising modelling career over further education, whereas Feb has always been quieter, more cautious, and more academic. For the most part, Feb was happy for her sister’s success and preferred not being the centre of attention, but as a lifelong introvert, I could empathise when dominant Diana took the credit for ideas that had actually been Feb’s.
I also identified with Feb’s ability to retain trivia - as well as being able to rattle off a lot of facts she’s learned from Uncle Robert about the history of the local area, she has an encyclopaedic knowledge of where various songs are/have been in the charts.
The various songs mentioned in the story additionally have the effect of rooting it strongly in its early-90s time setting. These aren’t the only ways this novel demonstrates the importance of music, though.
Theo manages an as-yet-unsigned artist who goes by “A Misfit Called Plato”. A huge character who’s especially entertaining to read about, Plato becomes Feb’s friend as well. She’s drawn out of the house by his gigs; a very memorable day handing out his flyers on the King’s Road; and, eventually, a challenge she can’t refuse.
I additionally enjoyed seeing Feb learn new things, and therefore become more mature, over the course of the book. The dramas in the personal lives of Aunt Ann, as well as Diana’s agent Lisa, teach her that life and love are far from black and white, and that she has to let people sort out their own messes and trust that things will be okay in the end. It was also really interesting to learn about the characteristics and care of canaries by her side.
This Could Be Everything is a lovely story with a brilliant, relateable main character.