(Review written on 2nd September 2020)
WOW! Diane Chandler knows how to tell a story!
Having read and LOVED Moondance back in October 2016 (I got very emotionally involved with certain characters in that book and it stays with me to this day) I was very excited to discover that Only Human was on it’s way and over the moon to have the pleasure of reading an advance copy. BIG thanks to Diane Chandler and Blackbird Books.
Only Human starts as it intends to go on, with an emotional punch. I almost felt winded!
Imagine you’re out shopping and see your husband, of almost 20 years, kissing another woman. This is exactly what happens to 45-year-old Anna Bond. She confronts Ollie and discovers he’s been having an affair for five months!! She had not had the faintest clue. She thought their little family unit was ticking along nicely apart the typical issues with having a 15-year-old daughter (Sophie). I mean, we can all take things for granted, but honestly, I would be devastated if it were me. I’d like to say that Steve would be out on his ear immediately, but I don’t really know how I would react to be honest. I wouldn’t be able to stand the thought of him being elsewhere doing goodness knows what with goodness knows who, but I don’t think I’d want to be with him anymore either. It’s a difficult situation for anyone to find themselves in. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t take the path that Anna decides on though.
There is so much going on throughout this novel. It is truly intense. I will probably ramble, so I apologise in advance. I really don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read this yet though.
I was completed immersed in the life of this family. I’m not sure I liked Anna to be begin with, but she definitely grew on me throughout the story, especially when we were introduced to Fred. He is such a lovely character and I loved the relationship they developed.
I can’t say I warmed to Ollie at all.
Sophie is a fairly typical teenage girl. I found her relationship with her mother quite relatable, although I haven’t had to deal with any cheating boyfriends as yet. I think Jack is probably quite typical of a boy of his age too. The whole Sophie, Jack, Anna and Ollie dynamic is quite fascinating though. I totally did not imagine for one second how that would all pan out!
This book is made up of multiple complicated relationships intertwined to create the most captivating of family dramas. A marriage on the brink, a teenage daughter’s first boyfriend and the heartache that that brings, a wife’s need to re-invent herself, a female friendship which is not immune to deceit either and a beautiful, lifechanging, new friendship with an 87 year old gentleman (and his dog).
Only Human is a story so full of secrets, lies and powerful heart-wrenching emotion. I was almost exhausted by the end of it. Beautiful, seemingly effortless storytelling. I absolutely adored it and can’t recommend it highly enough!
I have a feeling the Bond family (as well as Fred and Dougal) will stay in my thoughts for a long time to come. Everyone needs to read this book. I promise you won’t regret it if you do!
An easy five stars for me.
Many thanks to Diane Chandler for my beautiful, signed paperback copy also. It has taken pride of place on my bookshelf next to my signed copy of Moondance 😊
And don’t just take my word for it….
‘Just wonderful – absolutely without question one of my books of the year.’ Being Anne, Romantic Novelists’ Association Media Star of the Year 2019
‘WOW! So much going on, so many shocks! I really could not put it down.’ Susie Kelly
Every betrayal has a consequence… one family… one summer… one woman
The Bonds are, seemingly, a tight family unit, until one fateful summer when the temptations of lust and love come for them all
Tiger mum Anna, who gave up her career to build the perfect home life in London’s leafy Chiswick, is shocked to the core when she discovers that her husband of 20 years is having an affair.
Her daughter meanwhile is transforming into a tricky teen chopping at the apron strings.
Then Jack walks into their lives. Sophie’s first boyfriend is a breath of fresh air for the whole family, and Anna gradually discovers new purpose for herself.
But when more deceit creeps in, tensions soar, and Anna is propelled through a tangled web of secrets and lies towards a devastating climax.
This tale of love & betrayal, by the winner of the 2016 People’s Book Prize for Fiction and longlisted for The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2020, is the perfect novel for you if you enjoy intelligent, elegantly-written, novels by authors like Jodi Picoult and Louise Doughty.
‘A stunning family drama that many people will relate to and others will hope to never encounter.’ Netgalley advance reviewer
‘Beautifully-written with intrigue, genuine emotions and family life dealing with friends, fidelity and secrets, this story was outstanding.’ Netgalley
‘Kept me fascinated throughout. I can’t recommend it enough!‘ Netgalley advance reader
‘A wonderful and sometimes very raw story of infidelity, lies, lust, pain, love, deceit, callousness, gentleness, caring and self-discovery.’ Goodreads
‘I’m not surprised at all that Only Human has made the long list for the NotTheBooker prize. I adored this fabulously written book from the very first page.’ Goodreads
‘Diane Chandler is one fearless storyteller.’ Goodreads
‘Captures your intrigue and emotions.’ Goodreads
‘A moving analysis of what it is to grow a little bit older as a parent, woman, spouse, friend, daughter.’ Goodreads
About the author….
Diane Chandler was a political lobbyist in Brussels and then worked at the European Commission for several years, where she managed overseas aid programmes in Ukraine just after the fall of communism. Back in London, she joined the Department for International Development (DFID) on the Ukraine and then Africa desks. Her first novel, The Road to Donetsk, draws on her experience of managing overseas aid programmes, and won the People’s Book Prize. Her second, Moondance, tackles the emotional impact of IVF fertility treatment on a loving couple. Only Human, her third novel, is about a woman struggling to find meaning in life after her husband cheats on her and her only daughter is about to fly the nest. Published 8th September 2020. Diane co-runs Creative Writing Workshops London with Stephanie Zia of Blackbird Digital Books, and also coaches aspiring writers. She is the host of chiswickbuzz TV Book Club, Words with Wine in W4.
happy reading 🙂