More Than Us
families, parents, autism
21st May 2018
When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?
Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.
When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.
While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.
Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?
When you first start reading this book, you are convinced that Cameron is autistic and has OCD. But as you read on, you realise that this is too simplistic – and anyway, the experts have said he isn’t on the spectrum.
Now the spectrum is very wide indeed as I know from my own family and so it is difficult to be so definitive. It is clear Cameron has some social difficulties and has some of the repetitive behaviours one might expect, but on the other hand, the meds don’t work and his behaviour remains challenging. His father is convinced that what he really needs is time away from his, in his view, overfussy mother, and no medicines.
So the parents disagree as to what is the best way to help their son, which is not unusual, and in this novel leads to extreme behaviour.
I thought the story rang true until we got to the last section about the cult. It just seemed to be too easy to join, especially as most of the members were rich. This seems to have been a twist added in for the sake of not having a straightforward storyline.
If you want to know how realistic the behaviour of Cameron is, then look back at the blog published on this site, on 23rd June by the book’s author, who is a practicing child psychiatrist.
The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde
gothic, historical romance
In the heatwave of 1959, four sisters arrive at Applecote Manor to relive their memories of hazy Cotswolds summers. They find their uncle and aunt still reeling from the disappearance of their only daughter, five years before. An undercurrent of dread runs through the house. Why did Audrey vanish? Who is keeping her fate secret? As the sisters are lured into the mystery of their missing cousin, the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. One which will leave blood on their hands, and put another girl in danger decades later . . .
A sad story of a family loss. and the on-going impact of just what happened five years before, and how the parents of Audrey coped.
I am not always a fan of literature set in the 1950s as it is some ways not far enough away to count as historical, but not near enough to be contemporary, yet this novel was so well written that it got over that reluctance. It described the Cotswolds well – I have visited often and so am familiar with it, and even contemplated living in one of its villages, but far too expensive now!
I enjoyed the story and thought the style good. I am not sure though that I would read another novel set in this period.
Why Mummy Swears
The struggles of an exasperated Mum
Biography & Autobiography, humour, literature
June 18, 2018
Why Mummy Swears is the much anticipated new novel from Gill Sims, author of the hilarious Why Mummy Drinks and online sensation Peter and Jane. It's every parents' nightmare - the start of the school holidays - and instead of sitting in the sun, reading a book over a cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, Mummy has two bored moppets to attend to. After frantically booking sports camps, child minder slots, not to mention time off work, Mummy is exhausted. But this is only the beginning... After being dragged to join the school's PTA in the new term by an annoyingly kind-spirited neighbour, Mummy is stuck with organising the Christmas Fayre and pleasing all the overly disapproving parents. In combination with getting to know her father's surprise new glamorous (and much younger) wife, and being forced to spend more time with her narcissistic mother, life isn't cutting her much of a break. What more could possibly happen?
I giggled, giggled, and giggled some more. So many episodes rang true – if exaggerated – and I could guess that they were based on actual events, not just for her, but for us as well.
I too tried to feed my first child organic, home cooked mush – and he rejected it in favour of jars. I even tried to hide my own food in the jars but he spotted the difference.. my lovingly cooked food – many hours spent following recipes – didn’t fool him one bit. Jars from factories were preferred.
And the cost of school holidays racked up a significant amount with pony camps, adventuring in Wales, and so on for us too.
I am left wondering what could have been in her app ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ that made her so much money – I suspect a lot of people would really like one to exist! (reality check – it doesn’t exist, I know, I looked for it!)
The Single Mums' Mansion
Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
October 4, 2018
For all fans of Motherland, Allison Pearson and Hurrah for Gin.
Amanda Wilkie unexpectedly finds herself alone with three children under five in a rambling Victorian house in London, after her husband walks leaves them claiming he's just 'lost the love', like one might carelessly lose a glove.
A few months later, Amanda's heavily pregnant friend, Ali, crashes into her kitchen announcing her partner is also about to abscond. Once Ali's baby Grace is born, Amanda encourages them to move in.
When Jacqui, a long-lost friend and fellow single mum, starts dropping by daily, the household is complete.
Getting divorced is no walk in the park, but the three friends refuse to be defined by it. And, as they slowly emerge out of the wreckage like a trio of sequin-clad Gloria Gaynors singing 'I Will Survive', they realise that anything is possible. Even loving again...
A fun book all about the trials that beset women who have suddenly become single mums as their husbands decide that they no longer love them.
So, left alone with lots of young children, they form a self-support group in Amanda’s victorian house in South London, which is only half renovated as her husband left before completing it. With little money, the group find themselves dependent on each other for everything – including support after monster hang-overs and crying jags.
This is a light and fun novel but yet it still manages to highlight the desperate feelings and often poor living conditions of the ‘first’ wife and the emotional toll that having a husband leaving and then acquiring a second family often imparts.
I enjoyed this book even though I have little experience personally of what the characters written about go through, I found that the writing gave me that knowledge and made me very aware of just how awful it must be to be in that situation. A well written book with enough humour not to make it too emotionally draining.