The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore
Publication date: 05 March 2020
Genre: Women’s fiction
Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free.
I was immediately drawn to the concept of The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart — it seemed like it had everything I wanted. Time travel! Brooklyn! Women-led fiction! The 80’s! Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite hit the mark for me, but I think that’s because of my own expectations going into it and confusion as to where this books falls in terms of genre.
Brooklyn, 1982. Oona Lockhart is about to celebrate her 19th birthday and ring in the New Year. But at the stroke of midnight, she is torn from her friends and boyfriend, finding herself in her fifty-one-year-old body, thirty-two years into the future.
Greeted by a friendly stranger, Oona learns that on every birthday she will enter a different year of her adult life at random. Still a young woman on the inside, but ever changing on the outside, who will she be next year? Wealthy philanthropist? Nineties Club Kid? World traveller? Wife to a man she’s never met?
While Oona gets glimpses of the future and thinks she knows what’s to come, living a normal life is challenging. As she struggles between fighting her fate and accepting it, Oona must learn to navigate a life that’s out of order – but is it broken?
As this book is published by Gollancz, an exclusively sci-fi and fantasy publisher, I thought that the science fiction elements would be much stronger. If nothing else, the hook is time travel! I love time travel fiction and the amazing and complex ways that authors work with an impossible concept. However, Oona Lockhart didn’t quite give me what I wanted in that respect. The time travelling seemed negligible to the plot — it only served to give a fresh, light twist on the story. I had hoped to see more of Oona trying to manipulate her future in order to change her past, however this didn’t really come into play in any significant way. She’s mostly focused on fumbling her way through the present, and I found that I just wasn’t too interested in her troubles or journey to self-discovery. She’s not a character I could relate to and I just didn’t particularly care for her story. I confess I ended up skimming the last 100 pages or so just to see what would happen, and it is clear that this just wasn’t a book for me.
The one thing that really did strike me was the way that music is threaded through the narrative as something that grounds Oona in her own life. At 18 she’s a member of a band. In her 40’s and 50’s she’s learning to play the guitar. Every jump she makes in her life, she is relieved to find that she still has an extensive music collection and it’s a pleasure to catch up on what she missed. For me, this was easily the best and most relatable aspect of the book and I loved the way the author worked music into the story.
I think The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart would appeal much more to women’s fiction readers than science fiction lovers like myself. A story about a woman’s unique journey through life, it’s an interesting read but didn’t give me what I wanted.
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