In Flash Back, by Ellison Blackburn, we meet Charlotte Rhys Fenn, a successful editor and writer for a health magazine. Charley is in her fifties, has been married for nearly twenty years, has plenty of income – and is bored out of her mind by her life. Held in a relationship that has long since become more of a habit than a marriage for both partners, with a repetitive job, Charley makes periodic tries to strike some chord of interest in her partner, and to find some way to alleviate the humdrum of daily life. In desperation, she finally begins to research a cutting-edge surgery, known only as Renovation.
Ellison Blackburn’s protagonist is eminently relatable, and the mess of issues Charley faces in trying to make peace between her desires and her responsibilities will be shockingly familiar to many readers. Set in the near future, the story explores cutting-edge theories in both prosthetics and biology, while the level of psychological detail brings a realistic edge to the narrative and the characters spring vividly to life. Flash Back is well-written, with an analytical, laser-focus on the workings of inter-personal connections. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought that there must be something better in life, then this book is definitely for you.