Book Review: Waiting To Begin by Amanda Prowse

I’d had an advance review copy of this on my Kindle for months and never got round to reading it – but I’m so glad I finally did, and just before publication date which was 8 June 2021!

Here’s the blurb:

“1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame―and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.
2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss―the hope, the trust, the joy―Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.
Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?”

The book is based on Bess’s birthdays and follows two timelines which alternate – her 16th birthday in 1984 and her 53rd birthday in 2021. I’m a little bit younger than Bess – but still close enough in age to totally empathise with the setting of both birthdays. Many a rugby club party where I embarrassed myself too (throwing up on the geography teacher’s shoes being one of the more repeatable ones!).

The two timelines are totally believable – although you’re not sure exactly what has happened to Bess in the intervening years. The relationship between Bess and her brother Philip and parents is written so well in both timelines – and whose retired parents don’t love a voucher for lunch out?!

I also liked the random fact that our favourite resort in Portugal, Vale do Lobo, where we used to have a house (must be a construction company thing – as the people who own a house there are skip company owners #newmoney) gets a mention. I could picture the beach top dog walk. (Please let us be able to go back there soon!!)

A number of times I wanted to shout at Bess to not do something – but obviously couldn’t!! Overall I enjoyed the book – and was keen to see how each timeline played out – and found the ending very satisfying.

It’s out now – so you can download it immediately if you like the sound of it. A huge thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC.

Book Review: The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding

 

“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.”

This is another book I had as an advanced review copy last year and didn’t get around to reading – so I started it on a flight and enjoyed it from the start!

Initially I was a bit spooked – the main character is the wife of a construction company owner – like me (but unlike me she isn’t involved in the business at all – which is fairly fundamental to the story)  Her boys go to a school called Kings Norton School – and Kings Norton is the suburb of Birmingham where our construction company is based.  Whilst the school itself sounds quite like where our son goes (rugby is EVERYTHING!)   Then it turns out that Nina grew up in Portswood in Southampton – which is where I lived when I was at Uni (although I am slightly concerned how many novels this is now appearing in as a rough place to live #itwasaceintheearly90s) Let alone the fact that characters are called Tiggy and Fin(n)  – which are one of my friend’s kids’ names……….

It starts off as sad – if a little predictable – when the husband, Finn, is killed in a car crash.  It is then evident that he’s been keeping money troubles hidden from his family – and at the time of his debt he was £8million in debt.

Nina then has to sort herself out and stop being the SAHM whose most important decisions was what arrangements the florist was to deliver that week, to the survival of her and her kids.

I thought it a bit odd that she didn’t ask for any state help – surely there would have been some benefits / a hostel etc available to her – but that gets completely skirted over and she heads off back to her sister and  Portswood (honestly – it was a great place to live as a student – and Jesters, the nightclub us students used to frequent, even gets a mention!)

The story then follows Nina’s relationships with her sister and her sons as she learns to stand on her own 2 feet for the first time ever.  I enjoyed the relationship between Nina and Tiggy and how it changed over the course of the book.  Similarly Nina’s relationships with her two sons evolve quite significantly – and I found that quite emotional at times.

In another weird parallel universe thing, Nina ends up involved with a care home for the elderly.  Until 8 weeks ago I wouldn’t really have had a clue about such things – but my Nan is now a resident of a fabulous one – and so it resonated even more.

Overall this was an easy read that I enjoyed – although I am still quite spooked by all of the overlaps with my life!!