Every Five Minutes by Bronwyn Elsmore is a love/relationship story about how an emotionally damaged but strong woman comes to love and trust the kind, caring man that persists in creating a life with her. What is unique about the book is the innovative way it is written: The narrator reflects on her life with this man in five-minute segments. The book’s chapters are short and divided in these five-minute increments.
Here’s an example of a nearly complete chapter that I feel illustrates the concise and evocative style of the writer:
“And at a break at the top of the desert road, the wind tugging at our jackets and blowing my hair across my face, you were Heathcliff calling for Cathy. Now we’re Mark and Gina again, walking together. We’re not far from the next bus stop and though I hear the noise of the diesel engine approaching behind me and could possibly signal the driver to stop, I keep the hand that’s not holding my bag and my coat clasped in yours and let the opportunity go past.”
The narrator’s backstory is only handed out in small morsels. We know she’s been deeply hurt, her life has been in danger, and she is someone known to the public at least locally. Her complete story is left for us to fill in, and I found that satisfying because what she does reveal is more than enough to understand her.
Gina reflects on Mark’s curiosity about her surname:
Mark: “It’s really that bad?”
Gina: “It’s that bad.”
Mark: So bad that if you told me you’d have to kill me?”
You were smiling now and I could see this was one encounter that would end well when others hadn’t. You had the sense, and the sensitivity, to leave the matter there.
She is also telling the reader to leave the matter there.
A lot of character development, emotion and life observations are packed into these short five-minute chapters. It’s an ingenious way to tell the story, and it’s exciting to discover a whole new approach to writing.