This is just the most endearing story. Bonnie and Stan is about, well…Bonnie and Stan. They are soulmates, who first met in Liverpool in the Swinging Sixties – they have now been together for 50 years, having raised a family and grown old together. When we first meet them, they have just received some news that turns their lives upside down. It’s a somewhat bleak start to a book – but the memories and stories that unfold are so wonderful and reveal the huge heart to this lovely book.
The book is structured through two time frames – chapters in the present day, and chapters set in Merseyside in the 60s. I loved how Stuart handled this structure – the two narratives work together to slowly reveal the story of how Bonnie and Stan first meet. The nostalgic sections primarily follow Bonnie, as she embarks on the adventure of starting university in Liverpool – but it’s only with the details that are filled in through Stan’s sections in present day that we begin to see the beginnings of their relationship. There is a real intrigue to this right up until the end – where does Stan fit into Bonnie’s narrative…? I also loved that in this way, it really is the story of both Bonnie and Stan – I connected with both of them equally and together they narrate different parts of their story.
As I’m sure will be the case for many others, I was completely drawn to the vitality of the Merseybeat scenes – the music, energy, fashions, glimpses of the Beatles, Cilla Black in the glory days of the Cavern Club – it all completely came alive for me. While this meant that for me these sections stood out most of all, there is also plenty to be found in the ‘present day’ sections. Here Stan, with the help of his granddaughter Greya, enters the world of online dating – I will leave you to find out why – but it brings a quirky side to this story. The whole book is full with interesting characters, who have helped shape Bonnie and Stan’s story.
This book made me feel so much (which I did expect), but also swept me away in a way that I didn’t quite expect. The intrigue of Bonnie and Stan’s story as it unravels, the energy of the Swinging Sixties and some really endearing characters all give this book such a wonderful energy.
Bonnie and Stan by Anna Stuart publishes in paperback today (30th May 2019) with Orion. Many thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.