The babies that we never meet

The Idea of You Book Cover The Idea of You
Amanda Prowse
Womens' Literature, Women's Fiction, contemporary fiction
Lake Union Publishing
(21 Mar. 2017)

What if the one thing you want is the only thing you can’t have?

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

We don’t cry enough for the babies we lose (in early pregnancy). I certainly didn’t.

For over 20 years I ignored them and then I went into a church and saw the lists of babies that had died in early childhood and it reminded me of the babies we had lost. And I cried. I felt so sad about those children who had not joined our family.

And this book reminded me of those losses and I cried again not just for me, but for the central characters too. I empathised too much perhaps?

This is a book that starts as a second chance romance and slowly becomes a story about the children we desire through our procreation imperative  which when not fulfilled drives so many into despair and depression.

And yet there is a happy ending that is not the case for all. The author’s own experience gives this story that extra edge that rings of truth telling.

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Why enter retail?

The Shop on Main Book Cover The Shop on Main
Comfort Crossing #1
Kay Correll
Rose Quartz Press
(14 July 2014)

Sometimes, doing the right thing backfires... Bella Amaud is desperate when she learns her business and the home she lives in with her two boys is about to be whiskedout from under her. As shescrambles to maintain her fragile financial security andindependence, she fears she may lose more than just The Shop on Main and her home. Nothing is working out like Bella planned-she finds out the man she is falling for, Owen Campbell, is the businessman at the center of all her problems. Owen has secretly longed to belong-somewhere-anywhere-his whole life. When he decides to give his long-lost brother, Jake, back his birthright, he unknowingly thwarts his briefly held hope of a place where he can put down roots and a family he longs for. Nothing is working out like Owen planned-neither Bella nor Jake wants anything to do with him. How can a man who is used to being in control and a woman determined to make it all on her own find a way to happiness? The Shop on Main is Book One of the Comfort Crossing series. Bella and her best friends, Jenny and Becky Lee, navigate the heartaches and triumphs of love and life in thesmall southern town of Comfort Crossing, Mississippi.

This is another storyline which doesn’t make logical sense and was never explained.

If her husband wanted the divorce, and she was not in any way in the wrong:

  • Why wasn’t he paying her sufficient alimony and child support to enable her to live in the style to which she and the children were accustomed?
  • And, why wasn’t she still living in the family home?

Any good divorce lawyer/judge would have allocated these items to her without fail.

So bearing that in mind, the remainder of the story doesn’t make sense as the original premise on which it is based doesn’t.

At no point does she even fight for herself – any lawyer would take on her case for a percentage as she was so clearly in the wrong.

This type of story, where the women are lacking in spine and any ability to think logically and clearly annoy me.


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Not so much anti-capitalism as…

Moranifesto Book Cover Moranifesto
Caitlin Moran
essays, women
Ebury Press
9 Mar 2017

‘I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’

When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats.

Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.

And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place.

The polite revolution starts here! Please.

I started reading this book and giggled and then I didn’t.

I didn’t giggle when Caitlin talked about Wolverhampton as I knew it from first hand experience when I taught there for 2 years. And so I felt that I knew those families and those children.

I didn’t giggle when she wrote about the so-called bedroom tax.

We are lucky we own our flat. And so on nights when I can’t sleep due to my disability I can use the 2nd bedroom to allow my husband to rest. Sleeping peacefully can be 2 ideas that don’t link for me -I am always restless and awake a lot. So we need our 2nd bedroom. And it permits visitors!

I was a ‘lucky’ working class child as my father worked. So did my grandfather until he was over 70. We needed the money in our multi-generational household to pay the mortgage we had to take out when our house owner wanted to sell. At that after some 30 years of renting from him. 4 adults and 2 children in 2.25 bedroom house. With no central heating until after we bought!

I was lucky in that I was able to obtain a full grant to go to university which paid tuition and some board and lodging. Topped up by the work I did each holiday of course otherwise I could never afford the rent on the mice infested house I shared with several other students! And university moved me up a ‘class’ into being a professional.

I remember celebrating Thatcher’s educational achievement of removing the milk from Primary school children – the milk that enabled my generation to grow bigger than our parents – with a large bonfire in the city square and burning her effigy! All the while chanting ‘Milk Snatcher Thatcher’.

So do I agree with everything that Caitlin writes? No, of course not. But her Times’ columns are the first thing my husband and I read on a Saturday. And so much of what she says or rants about fit in with our backgrounds and political and social leanings – being the leftie liberals we are with our theatre and music and art visits. Yes, I am now far from my working class background which was also far from her experiences, but still her words resonate and make me think.

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Riviera Warmth

Rosie's Little Cafe on the Riviera Book Cover Rosie's Little Cafe on the Riviera
Jennifer Bohnet
women's fiction, contemporary fiction
23 Feb. 2017

Rosie Hewitt’s dream of opening a little French café on the Riviera is finally coming true. She’s giving up on love and instead chasing her own perfect recipe for happiness…

Only, she never expected the oh-so-sexy, award-winning chef, Sebastian Groc, to set up his restaurant next door – or for his freshly-baked croissants to smell quite so delicious.

But with just a few days until she opens her doors and all her sugar-coated dreams crumbling around her, Rosie isn’t prepared to give up without a fight

Enjoyable contemporary women’s fiction.

There are many different characters portrayed in this book – all with flaws – and all come together during a summer on the French Riviera when life changes for them all.

The story is empathetically written with a nice flowing style.

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How Great are those Small Things?

Small Great Things Book Cover Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
women's fiction, contemporary fiction
Hodder & Stoughton; 01 edition
(11 Oct. 2016)

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.

As Jodi Picoult says herself in her article in the Times newspaper on Monday 28th November 2016, this book takes her into a sphere of life she hadn’t known. And takes many of her readers there too. Including myself.

Picoult says she thought she had black friends but had never discussed racism with them, and how it had affected them. She hints that racism is less prevalent in the UK than in the US, and that the US is more racist than it is comfortable to think about.

As a liberal white North Londoner who has never concerned herself about her friends’ colour or religion, her comments hit me hard. I too had never thought to discuss prejudice with my Muslim and black friends. I really don’t notice colour I tell myself and yet am surprised to even contemplate that they are a different colour from me – does everyone appear ‘white’ to me? Is this reverse racism? And is it any better?

I had to ask my Muslim friend if she had encountered any racism and she had but at an airport and soon settled she said. But she said she had heard of others having more trouble. Is that because she is female and they are male I wonder? Or is it because she is an articulate Londoner with a great education who is comfortable in speaking out and wouldn’t stand any nonsense?

Is it because we live in London I wondered? and then reflected on Zadie Smith’s book NW, which I had recently seen televised. I live only half a mile from where this was based and asking local friends they say it was not too far from the truth, at least in 2012 when the book was written. Surely these events couldn’t reoccur? Or could they? Our local garden group has 1 black member and 1 Asian member. Where are the others? Is it that they can’t afford to live in our rather nice conservation area enclave?

You read the book and say ‘this couldn’t happen here’. This is London. London is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society – at least on the surface but what lies beneath? Jodi Picoult makes you question this. ‘Look at your bookshelf’ Picoult says. Do you read black authors? Do you even know what colour the authors you read are? She says we are limiting ourselves to people who look and sound like us, and the way we grow is from those who are different from us.

So the book has a story to tell not just about the nurse and her experiences and the trial, but also about ourselves and the way we look at the world in which we live and who we encounter and what we do with that experience.

This is a book that must be on everyone shelves to be read and considered – it has a message, but is also well written, well researched and stylistically excellent.

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