The First Time Lauren Pailing Died was in the 1970s when she was a teenager. It was a chance accident and her family were distraught. Except that maybe she didn’t die then but actually died in childbirth many years later. Or maybe she didn’t die at all. This book by Alyson Rudd tells all these stories of the different things which might have happened. This means that the book consists of narratives which switch world with each one being slightly different and with the main character in these different narratives varying. This is all done very well and I was never confused about which reality I was reading about. What happens to the characters in each reality is very different but completely believable.
From her childhood Lauren has been able to see slivers of silver light which have revealed to her other worlds where her mummy is different. She learns not to talk about these but it is obvious that she has switched from one of these realities to another. The Lauren that doesn’t die is plagued by memories of an alternative life and the author tweaks the world and historical events slightly as well.
I thought that the different realities were well done and I enjoyed seeing what happened to Lauren’s parents and best friend in each of them. A common theme of the three worlds is the disappearance of Peter Stanning, a man who used to work with her father. Lauren’s life becomes embroiled with his and his family in each reality. I didn’t feel that this aspect of the book really worked well enough. It didn’t always merge well with Lauren’s story and I didn’t think that the link between the two was that strong.
This is a good enough book. It is well crafted but it wasn’t quite good enough for me – I think I wanted more explanation of what is happening and more links between the two stories.