NOVEL APPROACH: Secret lives

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First Posted: 4/22/2013

Imagine meeting the love of your life and, for reasons beyond your control, he or she slips away in an instant. Six years later, fate brings you back together. Unfortunately, this second chance comes at a great cost.

Thus begins Harlan Coben’s latest novel, “Six Years,” a book that navigates through a complicated path of love and deceit. While Coben is notable for both series and singular works, his newest novel stands alone.

In the work, protagonist Jake Fisher meets and falls in love with Natalie. Initially, she appears to be picture-perfect. Naturally, Jake comes to the realization that Natalie is the only woman he could ever want. As readers grow to understand their relationship, we become most connected to Jake through his sincere affability and endeavors to satisfy Natalie. Natalie, on the other hand, is a much more complicated character.

While seemingly genuine at first, Natalie’s life story is a twisted one. As a result, she is forced to make an immediate decision to leave Jake. He is not only upset, but also astonished to find that Natalie chooses another man. Within a short time Natalie is married to the man, and it is during the reception that Jake decides it is best to accept Natalie’s new life.

Following the reception, Natalie requests that Jake no longer contact her and, attempting to move forward, Jake regrettably agrees. “I would do as Natalie asked. I would leave her alone. I would think about her every day, but I’d never call or reach out or even look her up online. I would keep my promise. For six years.”

As time passes, readers find Jake still nursing his heartache. He may be focusing on his career as a political science professor, but he has yet to accept that his greatest love has seemingly come and gone. Jake makes attempts to pick up the pieces, but he simply cannot. Soon, however, Jake is given a second chance.

Six years after Jake made that promise to leave Natalie alone, he comes across an obituary for Natalie’s husband. Jake makes an informed decision to attend the funeral but, once there, he is caught by surprise. The love of his life is not the Natalie he knew. In fact, it is not Natalie at all.

As Jake attempts to discover what has actually transpired over the course of those six years, the more he realizes he never knew Natalie at all. Still, he refuses to give up on love. The story then unfolds and develops into a breakneck ride of suspense.

“Six Years” is a dazzling work of art full of love, corruption, and absolution. While complex, each detail within the novel is precise, moving toward a flawless conclusion.

‘Six Years’ by Harlan Coben Rating: W W W W