Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (1st December 2016)
Caitlin’s life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.
Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.
Nancy’s Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.
But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages – and about what they both really want . . .
Well, what a beautiful ending to an emotional, thought provoking and, at times, amusing story.
Caitlin is married to Patrick and they have two children, 10 year old Joel and 4 year old Nancy. Both are happy, outgoing children, but something changes in Nancy when Caitlin and Patrick hit a rough patch in their marriage and decide to separate. Patrick had been offered a job miles away, Caitlin didn’t want to move from the comfort of the home her Nana left to her, but Patrick goes anyway. They feel like they’re making each other miserable, but don’t really know why, so it seems like the only option, but they do their best to keep things amicable.
When Nancy stops talking, no-one knows why, other than the obvious distress of Patrick moving out, but it soon becomes more than that and it terrifies them both. Caitlin is desperate to have her loud, bubbly little girl back, but has no idea how to make that happen.
When the children start to spend time at Auntie Eva’s house, Nancy soon forms a special bond with her two pugs, Bumble and Bee. I think Bumble and Bee were my favourite characters, but I did really warm to Eva. Eva is almost 45 and already a widow, having been married to an older man, famous actor Mick, for 7 years. She has no children of her own and initially feels awkward with these little people in her home, but she soon bonds with them and they develop a lovely relationship.
As Caitlin and Patrick struggle to agree to terms of their divorce at the same time as trying to figure out what’s wrong with Nancy they’re faced with another trauma and it seems their only hope is Nancy and Bumble.
This is a very easy read, in the sense that it is beautifully written, although it does deal with sensitive subjects. It highlights how much children can be affected by adult relationships however much you try to shield them and also how younger children can take things completely literally.
It’s a very believable story of family, love, marriage, marital problems, parenthood and how damaging a lack of communication can be, but also how it’s never too late and there can always be a happy ending. It’s full of likeable and very real characters who I found myself really caring about (Alex was another of my favourite characters) and wishing for that happy ending for them all.
Many thanks to the author and publisher for approving my request on Netgalley.