Busy married couples, working and raising their families, often get caught up in the details of their days. Until something happens, something so unthinkable that time stands still and the façade of safety is shattered.
In Julie Myerson's Something Might Happen, two young English couples residing near the ocean with their assorted children are sideswiped by a tragedy, a brutal intrusion into their mundane domesticity that is a reminder to them that every day is counts. Lennie and Alex have two boys; Mick and Tess, their closest friends, have four children, including a new baby girl. On one ordinary night in their small seaside village, Lennie fails to return home as planned, hours late. When Lennie is found mutilated and murdered, the shock and brutality of the heinous act stops people in their tracks.
Lennie’s husband and their children are most immediately impacted, but Tess and Mick are dramatically affected as well, since Tess was Lennie’s best friend. They have shared family celebrations and raised their children side by side, bonding as young mothers often do.
Clearly, Tess is central to the unfolding drama (a fact made more evident as the plot evolves), especially her personal relationships with the men in her world, Mick and Alex. Another man enters the mix, and he is also drawn to Tess. Lacey, a grief counselor for the victim’s family, serves as an adjunct to the official investigation. As such, he is often near the family members as they experience a variety of emotions. It is Tess, after all, the woman who is the focus of all these men, who must make the difficult decisions that will directly affect both families.
As the protagonists struggle to reassert the daily patterns that shaped their lives before Lennie’s murder, it would seem that the imminent burial of the young mother would put to rest the self-doubts and second-guessing of the last few weeks. But the unpredictability of fate intrudes once more, plunging the families into yet another trauma before they have properly dealt with the first. Emotions are raw and vulnerable to interpretation. In this process, the author exhibits her consummate skill as a novelist.
Myerson’s style is remarkably uncluttered. Something Might Happen is structured in such as way that the reader seems to exist within the framework of the story. The characters' forceful personalities create familiarity: the texture of relationships, for example, between Tess and her husband, or Tess and her daughter, Rose. Without resorting to the superfluous descriptions that often clutter novels, Myerson’s characters are the definitions of their scenes. In this way, the reader feels the same sense of immediacy as the protagonists, as vulnerable as them to the vagaries of fate. This author enables her readers to participate in the process and, finally, the decisions that will direct Tess and her family’s future.