Do you believe in karma? Materialistic, selfish estate agent Siena Robinson doesn’t – until she hits a disastrous run of bad luck that makes her wonder if she has brought it upon herself.
In Instant Karma, Siena moves to the quiet village of Fenville, where the locals are opposing a development that will see a beloved hall and library replaced by new flats and shops. What her neighbours don’t know is that she is one of the developers and stands to make millions from the deal.
But then Siena discovers that her high-school sweetheart, Aiden, is leading the protest and she finds herself acting as a double agent who is torn between her neighbours’ plight and making lots of money.
Will Siena betray her new friends and let greed ruin a second chance with Aiden? And will she ever find out who or what is behind her run of bad karma?
Note: I was given a copy of this book for review.
After having time to think about it this is more 3.5 stars than 3 I think. The story Oldfield has created is all about the effects of karma and the message that what goes around comes around and bad karma comes to those who deserve it. While this idea could be very moralistic for the reader it works because Siena is a character who is very stubborn and selfish and can’t really see or accept that her bad luck is caused by her own behaviour. This brings the focus more on Siena’s character than on the karma itself so you can ignore the “you get what you deserve” message that flows through it.
Siena is a person you do kind of dislike, but without disliking her you can’t understand why she does what she does. You wouldn’t like someone who acts the way Siena does and to do so means the story does not work. It is not a strong dislike, more of an intense judgement about her and her behaviour. You judge her actions and get a nice feeling when she gets her comeuppance.
Siena has an attitude along the lines of “if they don’t care about me I won’t care about them”, but even if they do she brushes them off, finds the bad in people and always assumes the worst. She has her group of friends but they are similar to her and she cannot see the problems with herself as a result. The few realisations she has come after she tries to improve her attitude and a few home truths slowly start to change her way of thinking but it is a long road and she falls more often than she succeeds. But as much as it irked me it took her so long I liked that there was no instant turn around. Doing one nice thing does not change Siena; it takes time and some severe bouts of bad karma for her to truly start to change, and not just for her own benefit, real genuine change. And it is the attempt that makes you start to hope for her, that maybe she is better than the selfish and nasty person she has turned into.
When she reconnects with Aiden Siena tries to improve herself but this is purely for selfish reasons, to make him think she was a better person rather than to actually improve herself. But in doing this Aiden helps her remember the person she was eight years ago when they were together, the nicer, kinder person rather than the snobby and judgemental person she has become. Siena tries to be good for Aiden, to impress him and to show him she is a nice person, but her desire to do better is also powered by her attempt at better karma, but when there is no instant gratification she feels she deserves, she falls back into her old ways.
What I liked was that Oldfield gives us a hint at how Siena became she person she was, and how she gradually changed from the person Aiden knew to the person she becomes. Events in her past and conscious decisions have shaped who she has become and this helps understand her more, and makes you pity her slightly.
One review I read described this story like A Christmas Carol in modern real estate which is the perfect description, but with fewer ghosts. There is definitely something that keeps you reading even though Siena gets up your nose. I think I kept waiting for her to come to her senses and realise the impact her bad decisions and selfish ways were having on her life. I kept expecting that the next chapter would be where she changes her life and sees her fortunes improve.
The changes do come about though and I think at just the right time. Oldfield concludes the story pretty well with some surprises but it works in a way, without being too incredulous or unbelievable. The ending is dramatic but exciting and after the gradual build up in anticipation about the development as well as Siena’s bad karma, it all comes to a head in a wonderful fashion. There are some unexpected surprises that add a bit of mystery to the mix but they manage to work out well. There are a few things left unanswered at the end that I would have liked to see outcomes and consequences of but other than that there is a good concluding sense about Siena’s future. She knows it is not going to perfect but she is going to face it and embrace it as it comes.
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