Millar’s sophomore effort derives its impetus from the idea that, for some people, bad luck is inevitable.
Kate lost her parents to a car accident on her wedding night and then, years later, thugs murdered her beloved husband, Hugo. Ever since Hugo’s death, Kate has fought depression, not always successfully. Now, she lives with her son Jack in Oxford, England, near her in-laws, and struggles not to lose her mind. Her problem? She can’t stop computing the odds that something bad will happen. Whether it’s riding her bike without a helmet or crossing the street or someone breaking into her home, Kate is terrified she and Jack will become victims of the same types of crimes that took her parents and husband. So she tries to insulate both herself and Jack from the possibility that something bad could happen to them. She refuses to let Jack go anywhere by himself and wraps them both in a cocoon of alarms, sets unreasonable boundaries and often resorts to bizarre measures. But her husband’s parents are horrified at what they see: Kate is quickly turning Jack into a terrified, neurotic mess. Her mother-in-law says she’ll take Jack from Kate if she doesn’t clean up her act. Then Kate meets Jago, a visiting professor who specializes in statistical analysis. Jago makes her feel alive for the first time in years, and more importantly, he sets about helping her overcome her fears—but are they really unfounded? Soon, she and everyone around her will discover the fateful answer. Millar spins an infectious, engrossing and inventive story, but once she brings a new man into the picture, the storyline starts tilting toward the ridiculous. Suggesting that a woman as fearful and tenuous as Kate would dive wholeheartedly into opportunities to commit crimes and be willingly victimized will stretch the credulity of most readers.
A promising premise disintegrates into a rather unbelievable story about halfway through the book.