When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.
This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.
Lucy traveled from Australia to France, solo, to recover from the demise of a relationship. She visit the new cemetery at Fromelles, where a cemetery is under construction to re-inter the remains of the British and Australian soldiers buried there in WWI. She goes early in the morning, and as she absorbs the atmosphere of the sacred place, she nearly runs into a man. He is wearing a period soldier's uniform, and compliments him on its authenticity. Lucy gets a little nervous, though, as the man talks as if he had fought and died in that battle. She leaves quickly and, upon reaching her car, turns for a last look and the man is gone.
So begins Beyond Coincidence. Lucy is like most of us, a little skeptical, and figures the soldier has followed her to Paris. She runs to her car, gets in and locks the door. When she turns on the ignition, the soldier is in her passenger seat. He knows her name. She is the first person that has been able to see him since he was dug up five months previously, and he asks for her help in getting his remains identified so he can have his name, Frederick Ormon, on the headstone.
I really liked the character of Lucy. A woman traveling alone across oceans and continents, even in our day, really is an adventurer. If a ghost showed up in my locked car and asked for help in getting his remains identified and finding out what happened to his wife and baby, I wouldn't be heading for the nearest wifi to trace his family tree, I'd probably be heading for the nearest bar.
Now, some people don't believe in coincidence at all. Some believe there is such a thing of "too many coincidences". Lucy lives in Brisbane, Freddy was from Ipswich and his great-grandson, Nate lives in Ashgrove. All these are in the same area of Australia. Why did Lucy go to Fromelles in the first place? The initial coincidence is joined by many others in this novel, but never into the realm of fantasy - which is a plus for me.
And what about Freddy? Most literature and media paint a picture of ghosts as being almost exclusively evil. Freddy is quite the gentleman - I can picture him in a Jane Austen book. Of course, people were more formal 100 years ago. OK, so he does have this habit of popping in on Lucy unannounced, which makes her jump - but he's not doing it as a prank.
Lucy goes to ask Nate if he would provide some DNA so the cemetery authorities could use it to match with that pulled from Freddy's remains. Nate comes home in a taxi, barely sober enough to get to his own door. He is boorish, and Lucy is sure his particular apple fell very far indeed from the family tree.
I also appreciated the glossary of terms at the back, that gives the meaning of the Australian terms sprinkled throughout the text. Some, like ANZAC, are intuitive; some definitions can be approximated from the context; and yet others, like "bonzer" and "come a gutser" ... well, the non-Aussies amongst us just need a little help with those terms.
I don't want to give too much away, but I love talking about Beyond Coincidence. It is a thoroughly engaging story. I will probably read it again someday, and that is unusual for me. I very nearly did reread it while preparing this review! You have the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers from long ago, the ups and downs of Lucy and Nate's romance, some tense moments from the ex that was Lucy's reason for going to France in the first place, and a best-hoped-for resolution. This is a feel-good book that anyone with a dash of romance and a sense of adventure will enjoy.
Jacquie is an author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories that are emotionally driven and possess unique themes beyond the constraints of the physical universe. She strives to offer romance, but with complexity; spirituality, without the religion; and love, with a tantalising splash of spice.
Her novels express a purpose and offer subtle messages about life, the spirit and, of course, love.
(Disclosure: I received an ecopy of this book from the author and publisher via NetGalley and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)