Monday, 19 December 2016

The Food of Love - Amanda Prowse

Inspired by Amanda’s own extreme struggle with body image and a family history of anorexia, this is a compelling and heart-wrenching look at family, food and the challenge of raising teenagers in our self-obsessed, image conscious society.

Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years happily married to a man who still excites her, two beautiful teenaged daughters, and her dream career as a health food writer. Her home is filled with love and laughter, with a passion for food at its very core.

But no amount of love could have prepared Freya for the devastating impact of anorexia and bulimia on her family. In a desperate battle to rescue her youngest child from its clutches, Freya will do all she can to save her daughter, her marriage and her family. But how can she when food, the social glue of their family, is both the problem and the solution? Is Freya’s own obsession with clean eating partly to blame? And how can you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved? 

What I thought:

Since reading her first novel, Poppy Day, several years ago now, I have found that Amanda Prowse is one of those authors who never disappoints. Her books are always packed with emotion, so tissues at the ready, I was prepared and excited to get stuck into The Food of Love.

The Braithwaites are like any normal family. With two teenage daughters, Charlotte and Lexi, their days are filled with chatter, laughter and of course, arguments! It's a happy home. Dad, Lockie, is a freelance photographer, and mum, Freya, a food writer who loves cooking and is always whipping up fresh and exciting meals for her family. No frozen TV dinners or fishfingers and chips for this household!

When the school rings and asks Freya to call in to discuss Lexi, she's quite puzzled.It can't be anything serious, surely? Hers was a normal family, her girls well loved and cared for. The teacher is concerned after Lexi fainted at school. She thinks she may have an issue with food but Freya isn't convinced. If there was a problem then she'd know about it.

What follows is a story of torment and desperation, of love and heartache and of a once happy, stable family that begins to crumble and fall apart.

Lockie's character is refreshingly honest. He's a joker and at times a total embarrassment to his teenage daughters. I found his inability to cope with the situation and sometimes lack of tolerance, frustrating, although understandable, but his obvious love and devotion to his family won me over in the end. In fact the whole family's love for each other shines through as they struggle along on this harrowing journey.
This story is as ugly as it is beautiful. The excruciating pain and frustration borne by the whole family made for some uncomfortable reading at times. Lockie trying to exert a firm hand and Freya just trying to nurture her baby girl. Both helpless as they are engulfed by a blanket of gloom that poisons the happy unit they once were.

It was no surprise that this was an emotional read, but it wasn't just that. This book is a gift. It offers an insight into this little spoken about, often taboo subject. It doesn't hold back on the graphic reality of this horrific disease. A disease that can touch any one of us or our loved ones. It's a book that will stay with me.

In my opinion, it's the author's best book yet. I loved it. Highly recommended - read it and see for yourself.  

About the author

Amanda Prowse is a bestselling novelist with an incredible 136K followers on Twitter. This is her sixteenth novel and her books have been translated into a dozen languages and regularly top bestseller charts all over the world. Amanda has been dubbed ‘The Queen of Domestic Drama’ and writes about ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined.


Through writing The Food of Love, Amanda has come face to face with her own feelings of shame, secrecy and obsession with food. Overweight as a child and a yo-yo dieter as an adult, Amanda has struggled with body image and overeating all her life.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Suitable Lie - Michael J Malone

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she's his perfect match... And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving psychological thriller which marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland's top crime writers.

What I thought:

After hearing so many people rave about this book, I couldn't wait to read it myself, though I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The cover declares it as "domestic noir", so I figured there would be some sort of domestic violence, be it physical or mental. I have to say, though, I was not prepared for the story that unfolded before me.

Bursting with tension, this book focuses mainly on an issue I was vaguely aware of but had always dismissed without a second thought. It's a story of family life, the good and the bad, but mostly at its very worst. Gutwrenching and heartbreaking, I found myself torn - desperate to turn the next page, but fearful of what it would bring.

I found some parts of this dark tale deeply upsetting. This could be because the main character, Andy Boyd, had immediately forged a place in my heart. A real man's man, rugby player and bank manager who loves a pint with the lads and his brother, but loves his family more. What more is there to love? He's a widower and devotes his life to caring for his young son. Then he meets Anna. Gradually Andy's life begins to fall apart. Visits to family and friends are rare and he finds it difficult to function properly at work.

This wasn't just a good read, it was exceptional. I should also mention that hidden within this phenomenal storyline there is some truly beautiful writing. I'm struggling to think of another book that stirred my feelings quite like this. I had to constantly remind myself that it was only a story because I was so consumed with emotion. It was brutal and compelling. It was outstanding.

This is a book that will stay with me for a very long time and one you certainly won't want to miss.


Thursday, 6 October 2016

My Husband's Wife - Amanda Prowse

Once a week, Rosie Tipcott counts her blessings.

She still goes to sit on her favourite bench on the north Devon cliffs and thanks her lucky stars for her wonderful husband, her mischievous young daughters, and her neat little house by the sea. She vows to dedicate every waking hour to making her family happy.

But then her husband unexpectedly leaves her for another woman and takes the children. Now she must ask the question: what is left in her life? Can Rosie find the strength to rebuild herself? More importantly, does she even want to?

What I thought:

I've read so many of Amanda's books now and I've never been disappointed. In the past, I've found her books "real" as well as emotional and this was no exception.

Rosie Tipcott is happy and content with her lot. Married with two beautiful daughters, she's not wealthy, in fact, she even has to clean caravans to help make ends meet, but she feels rich because she has a complete family, something she always yearned for as a child. Her mum left when she was just a baby, leaving her to be brought up by her father alone.

Then, with no warning, Rosie's little world of contentment is shattered.

First of all, this book is funny, so funny. Rosie's children come out with some real gems that will probably have you laughing out loud. Then it's sad, so very sad, so as with most of this author's books, have those tissues ready. Naomi and Leona, Rosie's daughters definitely steal the limelight in this story. Their huge personalities burst with energy throughout the whole book. Even when they're sad, they're funny.

This book will have you laughing and crying in equal measures. It's a wonderful story and although it made me very sad in parts, it was by no means downbeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional journey it took me on and highly recommend this delightful read.

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Secret - Kathryn Hughes

Mary has been nursing a secret.

Forty years ago, she made a choice that would change her world for ever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.
Beth is searching for answers. She has never known the truth about her parentage, but finding out could be the lifeline her sick child so desperately needs. When Beth finds a faded newspaper cutting amongst her mother's things, she realises the key to her son's future lies in her own past. She must go back to where it all began to unlock...The Secret.

What I thought: 

I had heard so much about the author's previous novel, The Letter, but I never actually got around to reading it. Then, when I saw the cover of The Secret, I found it just too enticing and I knew that I had to make it my next read.

The story begins in 1975 when after marrying her childhood sweetheart three years ago, Mary Roberts is delighted to be told she's pregnant at last. March 2016 and we meet Michael and Beth and their very poorly son, Jake, who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Mary was Beth's mum and has recently died. While sorting through her personal belongings, Beth comes across a newspaper cutting. Then we travel back to July 1976, and Selwyn Price, landlord of the Taverners pub, arranges a bus trip to Blackpool for a group of family and friends.

Now I was a teenager in the late 1970s and I have to say that the author captured the very essence of that era. I was thrilled to be reminded of things that I'd long since forgotten. Rise 'N' Shine, from what I can remember, it was synthetic orange crystals, that when mixed with water, supposedly made 'fresh' orange juice. I actually loved it! Fine Fare and Rumbelows, names of shops that I haven't heard of for years but were so popular at the time.

Back to the book, and after what I thought was a rather slow, patchy start, the pages just melted away as all the threads knitted together to make a truly delightful read. I fell in love with so many of the wonderful characters who play a part in this touching story. It would be such a shame to reveal the storyline because it truly is full of hidden secrets and tragic events.

It's a book that just got better and better. Funny yet sad. Tragic but uplifting. It's a highly recommended read from me and I'll definitely be reading everything else by this author!