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A Thousand Rooms Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
"If I died tomorrow, would anyone care?"
In A Thousand Rooms, Helen Jones explores just who cares after a young woman's head-on departure from a high-pressure world. Katie works in an Australian ad agency, tiptoeing on thumbtacks to appease her overbearing boss, Darryl. She's bruised from unsavory dating experiences, primarily with a coworker named Jeremy. Jones, author of the Journey to Ambeth series, tosses laughter into an ocean of jellyfish stings. With grammatical command and physical description, Jones gives relatable, cringeworthy scenarios some light. If anything, there are very few instances of obscurity in the novel, while readers are welcome to flesh out the story with their own milestones and follies. Jones writes:
"There was a bit of a crowd around the bar and, as they parted to let us through, I saw a redhead leaning against it, talking to someone, a glass of wine in her hand. She had gorgeous hair, long and curly, and a nice figure. She was wearing jeans and a strappy top, just like me, but hers were more expensive. Still, I was with Jeremy. I turned to him and saw his face sort of, light up. The frown went and at that moment, the redhead turned and saw him. Her eyebrows went way up as she noticed me, then she was all smiles, though I could tell she was checking me out. We reached the bar and Jeremy, finally, introduced me to someone. To her."
Ah, that unflattering awkwardness, illuminated in thoughtful prose. Jones writes with magical realism, and a respect for the diversity in human experience. We see this in the different versions of Heaven presented, and Katie's roundabout journey towards her own ethereal paradise—the pair of red shoes that finally fit. While not explicitly mentioned, the novel, in its colourful youthfulness, sparks thoughts of The Wizard of Oz, Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid and one's being otherworldly, and The Princess Bride's Wesley. Jones writes a playful, yet achingly tasteful story, as readers may discover upon meeting the ever-obliging Jason.
While A Thousand Rooms fills the mind with much to discuss and reminisce upon, I do wish Jones had chosen to elaborate more on the past life experiences of the people Katie encounters. Delving further into the lives of Katie's antagonists (such as Darryl), may have added further profundity, though the story is already packed with diverse perspectives.
A Thousand Rooms completes itself with wizened contentment, an impressive feat given the protagonist's youth. The storyline quivers with humor and a work environment that reminds me of Toby Young's How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, while conversational insightfulness rings of spiritual resolution Mitch Albom offers in The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Outwardly, the novel is light, though the relationships depicted present a world and an afterlife of multidimensional possibility, where predestination and free will engage in a dance of shifting rhythms.
This is one of those rare books I simply couldn't put down. I was immediately captivated from the first sentence, and became so completely engrossed that nothing else in the world mattered for a good few hours.
This story would make a great movie that for me would be something like a cross between Ghost, and What Dreams May Come... and some.
Jones' creativity, originality, writing style, and storytelling skills are first rate. This book ticks all the boxes for a five-star work.
I've long been a fan of Helen Jones's Ambeth series, and I really enjoyed seeing her take on a different genre and world in A Thousand Rooms. The novel reads like contemporary fiction but has a lovely touch of fantasy and a good helping of romance (which came as a pleasant surprise after all of Katie's struggles!). As usual, Jones's writing is descriptive and detailed, and she beautifully brings to life the various settings (real and imagined) throughout the novel.
As a protagonist, Katie is a strong character. She has a deep love for her family, a clever set of problem-solving skills, and a bit of a potty mouth (which I really love, but some may find offensive). I appreciated how Katie remained headstrong and steadfast in her search for heaven, even after several obstacles sent her crashing (sometimes literally) back down to Earth. At times, she did get a little whiney for me ... but hey, if I were dead and left to wander Earth alone, I know I'd bitch, too.
The novel has a steady pace, with a good balance of action and introspection. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a little less reflection on Katie's life and more of the various heavens, but I understand why Jones chose to portion the novel as she did, and it works well. If I had to describe A Thousand Rooms in one word, it would be bittersweet. Katie's emotions are raw and realistic, and as someone who deeply empathizes with others (and is a bit homesick herself), I found myself tearing up at several points throughout the novel. Sometimes, I grieved with Katie for her lost life, while at other times, I happy-cried for her moments of joy. Maybe I'm just a sucker ... or maybe Jones has written a fantastic, emotionally resonant novel. (You can let me know after you read it!)
Overall, A Thousand Rooms is a beautiful journey that reminds the reader to appreciate every moment and focus on the "blessed" things in their life. While at times sad and introspective, it is also unfailingly hopeful and full of joy and love. Jones has crafted an endearing heroine, an uplifting love story, and a captivating vision of the afterlife (I wouldn't mind if this novel were right!). Highly recommended for those who like strong female characters, coming-of-age narratives, and true love -- just keep the tissues nearby!