Book Review All Change Please by Danielle West

All Change Please by Danielle West describes for you in the title the main premise of the novel.

The novel is focused on the lives of four friends. All in their late twenties, one of them

has recently died. Although the reader isn’t told how Laura died, we get the sense that it

was in an accident or something equally unexpected. No one, including her husband

and three friends, expected Laura to die and die so young.

Ophelia, Kat and Elise are Laura’s friends that are left to make sense of her loss. Each

handles the death in a different manner but in the same vein, they all examine their lives

and find them wanting. None of the three has any family that they can count on to be

there for them.

Ophelia is at a safe marketing job which doesn’t require any effort from her. She is not

committed to this job other than to receiving the paycheck. She has had multiple

relationships with selfish men and is at present alone. She prefers this to being in a

relationship where she feels she is being mistreated and even so, dependent on the

relationship.

Kat is married. Ian seems a perfect husband at first, solicitous of Kat’s sorrow over

Laura’s loss. He does comfort her and protects her from any more pain. Unfortunately

his selfish nature comes to the forefront when they visit his parents. Ian’s mother and

father are not satisfied with Kat as a daughter-in-law and the mother, in particular, does

everything possible to make Kat uncomfortable. Ian does not protect Kat against his

mother or father she is left to fend for herself. Given that she is the sole breadwinner in

the house while Ian chases a theater career and plays video games, she has to fend

for herself too much.

Elise is an artist also without any support from her very wealthy parents. They expected

Elise to either be a solicitor or marry one. Immediately. Elise is a very talented artist and

yet her parents see what she does as fruitless and her mother is always trying to fix her

up with men.

Elise lives in a flat she owns and rents out rooms to friends. James, a writer, is at home

always and is very supportive of Elise. Her deep depression after the death of Laura

leaves her under the covers in a room covered in food wrappers and dirty clothes.

Luckily she is discovered in this state by Kat. Kat cleans up the room and forces Elise to

go eat something outside of her room. She practically has to drag Elise out of the

house, but once out Elise starts to get herself back.

These three friends support each other, being the family each of them needs but does

not have. Kat was put into care in America as a teenager. Ophelia left her abusive father

at the very first opportunity and moved to London. Elise’s parents and siblings just don’t

get Elise and spend no time trying.

Ophelia and Kat are both Americans living in London. Elise is a native of England. Kat

and Ophelia seem to be a bit disconnected from London culture. Elise fits in until she is

faced with Christmas at her parents’ home and flees to Boston to be with Ophelia and

Kat for the holidays.

The title “All Change Please” is what is said when a train coming into a metro station is

terminating at that station. All the passengers must change trains or leave at that

station. An excellent description of how the three friends are trying to find a way to

eliminate the boredom and mediocrity of their lives and are spurred on by Laura’s death.

They each question whether there is an afterlife and if Laura felt she had accomplished

anything before her death at the age of 27. None of them is satisfied with their life and

each of them assimilates the impetus to change in her own way. The support they have

for each other makes their changes easier, but not easy.

Not being a reader of contemporary fiction, I was afraid that I would not like this novel.

The soul-searching, tear-producing angst experienced by these three friends is so

potently explained by Ms. West that I was drawn into the book within the first 50 pages.

I couldn’t wait to get back to the book to see what the girls were up to and how each of

them would be able to contend with the difficult changes in their lives.

I highly recommend this book. It is not only uplifting to read but will also prompt some

soul-searching on the reader’s part. A great interactive experience is to be had with All

Change Please!

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