Dear Thing – Julie Cohen

How could one selfless act make you feel like a monster?

One baby. Two mothers.

Dear Thing…

It’s not every day that your best friend offers to carry a child for you, a dream that looked like it would never come true. This is the case for Ben and Romily, friends since university and inseparable. In the midst of another miscarriage for Ben’s wife Claire, Romily offers to carry a baby for them and to donate her eggs. While at first all goes to plan and runs smoothly it isn’t long until Romily’s feelings develop into something more. While carrying the child of the man she has loved for years she starts to dream of the impossible…keeping a baby that she knows isn’t hers to keep.

I loved the fact that this novel is bold in the face of a tricky subject as well as being believable. A lot of the time novels about surrogacy are quite fluffy and don’t have the complications that Dear Thing has. The relationships are real to us because frankly it could happen to anyone, Romily is sure that the reason she is doing this is because she wants to help her friend after everything he’s done for her. We know she’s battling with her feelings and so does she but I find the character to have remarkable strength and she becomes so real to us because she’s honest. Cohen has done an incredible job of breaking taboos, breaking this image of a ‘natural mother’. Romily does a great job in her own non-conventional way but so does Claire, Cohen highlights a mothers struggles, triumphs and the thoughts most won’t speak out loud.

I’ll admit the character of Jarvis threw me a little and to some seems like a plot device but I liked him. I feel like without a new character and relationship dynamic the novel could have quickly got boring and left the characters weak. On that subject I have to say that Posie is my absolute favourite character because there is nothing like the honesty of a child that always listens. What Cohen has done so well with these relationships the way the characters relate to each other, this isn’t a novel full of happy endings and rainbows, there are times when you feel deep sadness for them or even happiness.

This novel is one that makes you think, not judge, a rare thing in these types of literature. You know what makes sense but reading through you begin to question and in a sense live through the situation and it’s not all black and white, there are a million shades of grey and just as many ways the novel could end…you’ll have to pick up a copy to find out though!

I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****! I absolutely loved it. While it’s thought provoking it’s not too intense on the ready the pace is gentle and fairly steady meaning that if you have a tonne to do (which I did when I was reading it) there are places you can stop, although I warn you, you won’t want to! This is an incredibly well-crafted novel, thoughtful, realistic and bold, go grab a copy now!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Just what kind of mother are you? – Paula Daly

 Your friends daughter goes missing.

She was your responsibility and you forgot her.

Just what kind of mother are you?

 

Lisa is the same as any other working mother, she’s stressed, she’s frazzled, she has a job to keep going as well as her three children and husband. Anyone can understand things slipping her mind occasionally, except what she’d forgotten was to pick up her friends child. The next morning she finds out that teenage Lucinda never went home, now she’s missing and it’s all her fault. As the days carry on and the search for Lucinda dwindles people start to point the finger.

I stayed up all night reading Just what kind of mother are you? I cannot put it down became literal, when it got to 3am and I couldn’t take in any of the words I decided to call it a night, only to wake up the next day and begin again. The best thing is that it really keeps you guessing right until the end and even if you take a sneak peak at the last page you have no idea. Daly has done an incredible job of keeping suspense throughout, the novel never gets boring and you may find yourself cancelling those Friday night plans to get to the bottom of what happens to Lucinda.

The multiple narratives that Daly uses work fantastically well. I’ve always been a fan of using more than one perspective to show the reader the bigger picture. You get to see the characters in the eyes of others as well as themselves which I think is really important in these types of novels, no one is innocent. This also relates well to the dynamics of the relationships between the characters and adds to the suspense. I particularly loved the unknown narrator which is used at time, frankly it’s chilling.

The characters were also spot on and incredibly realistic. You could actually imagine each of them, it’s as if you actually know them. Daly is also incredibly good at not making people simplistic, she understands real people. Lisa was an incredible character, she was frazzled, she blamed herself and she made mistakes which makes her seem normal to us. The only fault I could find was that at times her relationship with her husband seemed too passive at times, however, this did pick up over the novel.

I want to give this novel 5 stars *****, the characters and the plot are seamless. The pace is perfect and there are constant twists and turns. I dare anyone to read it and say they are bored because this is fantastic!

 

Review by Chloe Metzger 

Before We Met – Lucie Whitehouse ***

BWM

Your husband is hiding something.

Can you really know the truth about someone?

 

While Hannah waits for her husband’s flight to come in she is none the wiser that her life is about to change. What begins as Mark missing his flight steadily spirals into something much more. As Hannah begins to investigate it appears that she has indeed become too complacent in the role of dutiful wife and as she goes deeper she starts to wonder how much can you really know about a person before you met them?

I’d heard great things about this novel, it had been compared to others such as Before I Go To Sleep. If it had such rave reviews and a hint of mystery surely I would absolutely love and devour it within a few hours? Well one part was true, I did read it within two days but found myself struggling along for at least the first few chapters. I wanted Hannah to take back the independence and the fiery ature of a young girl who’s survived New York alone! Come on Hannah, where are you? I found her to be easily influenced and not what I would expect from the little I knew about her character.

As other reviews have mentioned Whitehouse is very keen on description, however, the majority of the time it just seemed a little bit like cotton wool. I felt like the story was just being fluffed up by endless description when I was hungrily pawing through trying to find more action and more depth to Hannah’s character. It was almost as if she was wrapped up in so much description that we couldn’t build a relationship with her. Also the character of Mark left a lot to the imagination I wanted to know more about him, about what kind of a man he is it all seemed a little too positive and too innocent for my liking for a large part of the novel.

Overall I’ll admit this wasn’t one of my favourite novels. I found myself rushing to the end only to be quite disappointed and in my view the majority of moments where there could have been gripping suspense were glossed over quite easily and left something lacking within the novel. I’m going to give it three stars *** I generally have mixed feelings, although I doubt I would read it again but as a side note if you’re not looking for something that will keep you up all night but want a little bibt of mystery then this novel might be for you, sadly it wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

Revolutionary Road – Richar Yates ***

RR

Commonly hailed as a classic I decided to pluck Revolutionary Road from my second year reading list and settle down expecting to finish in a few day. I didn’t. Over a week later I was still struggling through the lives of Frank and April Wheeler, after an opening where Frank in described as ‘the most interesting man she had ever met’ I was expecting him to be, well, interesting. I was disappointed.

Although this novel was not my personal choice to begin with, I wouldn’t especially recommend it. The novel is not badly written but lacks and kind of interesting character. It’s strange but I’ve never hated a protagonist so much while I read. I loathed Frank Wheeler after a while and found April to be pathetic and the image of a hysterical and dependent woman. The novel for me is a classic story of a couple who married too young and still wanted to play games with each other, even in adulthood.

That said I enjoyed the concept of the novel, challenging what society believes to be what a man and woman should do and slipping into the suburban lifestyle. I just found that Frank and April we’re terrible characters to portray this. Although you have to consider the time in which the novel was written I found Revolutionary Road to be quite a drag, there was so much more Yates could have achieved rebelling against ‘the American Dream’ but instead we are faced with characters we cannot connect with, therefore breaking any connection that we can have with the novel itself.

I want to give the novel two stars ***. I thought revolutionary road was something that would make me think but instead I found 300 odd pages of frustration and loathing towards both the main characters. Yes the ending (no spoilers) varies this but it didn’t make me like them any more at all.

Creative capers!

I’ve decided that I’ve become too quiet on this blog. I’ve decided to start posting some of my own creative ideas for you all again. I’ll be drafting up some pieces for you all to enjoy!