Sometimes, life’s lessons are far harder than those one learns in school. Such is the case with the four main characters in Elizabeth Jasper’s latest novel, A BED OF KNIVES. The quartet graduates from school with optimism and ambition, but fate proves a fickle taskmaster. Artistic Rose pursues a career in fashion, only to encounter unspeakable heartbreak; athletic Eddie succeeds as a professional athlete, but soon learns the battles off the field are far more ruthless than those on it; intelligent Gina’s business career is co-opted by family tragedies and mysteries; and tragic Spider, a professional chef, winds up living on the streets, homeless, drunk and destitute.
Jasper makes clever use of flashbacks, beginning the book in the present with Gina and Rose rescuing Spider from the streets of wintery Oxford after he has hit rock bottom. She then toggles back and forth between past and present, peeling back the layers of events that intervened in their optimistic and naïve graduation plans. The plot unfolds with many unexpected turns, raising the ultimate question: Will the twists of fate strengthen or forever splinter the bonds of love and friendship of the four protagonists?
The book contains some steamy sexual scenes, but they are always relevant to the story and never gratuitous. Jasper’s meticulous descriptions and thoughtful dialogue create believable characters, who are as endearing for their flaws as for their strengths. A BED OF KNIVES is a great read with a timeless message: however we try to trim our sails, the winds of fate ultimately determine our direction.