family death

All posts tagged family death

The Art Of Hiding – Amanda Prowse

Published November 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Lake Union Publishing for auto-approving me on NetGalley for this contemporary novel, my first by Amanda Prowse and I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis and the fact that some of it was set in Southampton, a city I know very well through living there for about ten years, going to college and university and getting my first “proper” job out of university there and making some of the best friends I’ve had in my life. By and large I found this to be an enjoyable novel however I’m sorry to say I wasn’t blown away by the narrative. There is nothing wrong with the writing, it’s merely a case of personal preference and I know this book has some fantastic ratings on Goodreads from reviewers who have loved it so please don’t take my word as gold.

It’s the story of Nina, who lives a charmed and privileged life in a huge, luxurious house in an area where places to lives are much sought after and the quality of life is excellent. Her two boys, Connor and Declan attend private school, are doing well academically and have vast numbers of friends. Basically, they are all deliriously happy in their lives and you can almost smell the imminent tragedy just waiting in the wings. Tragedy it certainly is, in the form of Nina’s husband Finn being killed in a car accident. He was the sole bread-winner in the house and took charge of all the finances but Nina isn’t too worried until she is given the devastating news that the family is actually millions of pounds in debt and almost everything they own, including their gorgeous house, has to be taken away from them in lieu of payment.

Nina and her sons are forced to leave their beautiful surroundings and exclusive school and move back to her childhood home, a council estate in one of the less affluent areas of Southampton. The rest of the story follows Nina and her boys as they struggle with their grief for their father, adjust to a completely new way of life where their next meal may not necessarily be the most opulent of offerings and learn to pull together as a family and embrace this horribly difficult period of their lives. Nina herself must come to terms with the fact that she might not ever have really known her husband and learn how to be independent and stand on her own two feet, finding a job, loving and protecting her sons and learning how to make them all a happy family once more.

Let me assure everyone who might be dumbfounded that I didn’t enjoy this book that there are actually a lot of positive things about it and many reasons why other people will love it. Whilst I didn’t particularly warm to the character of Nina, I appreciated the horrific situation she found herself in and the strong moves that she made in order to protect her children, which obviously was going to be her number one priority. Also, there is a moment in the story where you think the author is going to take it a perhaps more obvious, clichéd way in terms of Nina meeting someone. I fully admit, I was all ready to roll my eyes and put the book down in disgust but she really surprised me. She didn’t make it an ultimate cheese-fest, she didn’t make it all about Nina finding another man and instead, deliberately made it much more about Nina looking out for her children, becoming a woman that doesn’t necessarily need to fall conveniently into another relationship. God, I appreciated that!

To be perfectly honest, I can’t say too many negative things about this book. I disliked Finn as a character intensely – I found him controlling and manipulative but my heart still broke a little bit for Nina as she began to see his true colours after his death and realise how much she had been missing out on as she stayed at home where she had little input in many situations. Personally, the mystery behind the huge debt that Finn accrued through the business and his death (which could have been seen as mysterious) wasn’t explored as much as I might have liked and I didn’t feel I connected with many of the characters. Mostly, I think this story was just missing a little something for me, a certain “oomph,” something I can’t quite put my finger on but it just meant that as I read it, I never felt particularly excited. I’d love to know what you think if you’ve read it, please feel free to disagree with everything I’ve said, after all we all get something different out of every book we read, right?

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

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Short Stories Challenge – Tell Me I’ll See You Again by Dennis Etchison from the collection A Book of Horrors

Published September 26, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s Tell Me I’ll See You Again all about?:

Tell Me I’ll See You Again explores the strange things that keep happening to a young boy who is struggling to cope with a family tragedy.

What did I think?:

This was a really interesting little story that I don’t think really fits into the horror genre of this collection but certainly had its eerie moments and the more I think about it, the better it gets. When the story opens, we are walking with a young girl called Sherron who spots a cricket falling to the ground where it lies motionless, appearing to be dead. She picks it up, puts it into her pocket and continues walking. This is relevant information I promise! Then something happens that makes her uneasy, she sees her neighbours van driving past and a young boy pursuing the vehicle on a bike. This is the son of the van driver, David Donohue and one of her best friends. She begins to follow and is instantly terrified when she hears what seems to be a collision which causes her to run to the site of the assumed accident, their other friend Vincent in tow.

Sherron and Vincent find their friend David in a tangled heap with his bike, his eyes closed and not responding to their voices. Curiouser still, Vincent doesn’t seem to be bothered in the least and it turns out the four friends used to stage mock accidents last summer and score each other out of ten. (Vincent scores him eight by the way as it doesn’t seem as if he is even breathing). By tapping his head gently but firmly against the ground, Sherron brings him round and although slightly confused, he does not seem any worse for the episode. The dead cricket in her pocket also comes back to life and she also revives a seemingly dead possum from the roadside where David lay. What on earth is going on?!

Then the reader finds out that David has been experiencing a lot of these “fake deaths” ever since his mother and brother were killed in a horrific accident. He hates it when his father leaves the house without him which is why he raced off in pursuit of him. David also has terrible thoughts which he confides to Sherron in the hope that she may understand. Sherron wants to try and help him but he is remarkably resistant to her efforts or her “science project,” as she deposits her now very alive cricket with a few other insects in a glass jar. Again… what is going on?!

The author speeds up the action and fast-forwards the years of the children, letting us know what happened and flooring us with a brilliant last line that tells us everything and yet nothing at all! I have so many questions about this story that will most likely remain unanswered. Perhaps the author leaves it up to his reader to fill in the gaps? I did find this frustrating but in a good way as it kept my brain ticking around the story. If you don’t like ambiguous endings, this might be a bit maddening as there is too much which is just left unsaid. As this is the first thing I’ve ever read of Dennis Etchison’s work, I will definitely be checking out what else he has written. Tell Me I’ll See You Again was a fantastic short read that I really enjoyed and left me with lots to think about.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft