Having read and enjoyed books by Amanda Prowse before, when I saw she had a new book out on 10 January 2023, I requested an ARC from NetGalley and here’s the blurb:
“In this heart-warming story from million copy bestselling author Amanda Prowse, Nora has given up on finding happiness. But has it been waiting for her all along?
As Nora and her British Army officer husband, Gordy, pack up yet another home and leave the sun of Cyprus for the drizzle of England, she can’t shake a feeling of regret—at her failure to follow her own dreams, but also, if she’s honest, at having ended up an officer’s wife at all, drifting through a life of temporary homes and temporary relationships.
Since losing her parents at a young age, Nora’s life has been lacking an anchor: someone or something to make her feel secure. Her marriage has been her only permanent relationship, and just as even that appears to be fizzling out, a tragedy forces Nora into the role of legal guardian to her seven-year-old nephew, Ted. Faced suddenly with a responsibility she never dreamed of, how can Nora possibly offer the boy the kind of unconditional love he deserves, when she’s never experienced it for herself?
But as she navigates the precarious and unfamiliar world of parenthood, Nora begins to see herself through Ted’s eyes, as someone worthy of love and even joy. When she’s welcomed into the previously intimidating huddle of mums at the school gate, she has to wonder: is it too late to smash down the other barriers she’s built—and to have a second chance at a happy marriage with Gordy?”
The prologue starts with a very young Leonora and an old gentleman called Senor Agosti taking her back to bed when she’d got up scared in the night. The stories of Leonora / Nora and Senor Agosti then become clear as the book begins.
Nora and her army office husband are leaving Cyprus to be stationed back in the UK – and having relatives who’ve lived in forces accommodation – the descriptions of them and the furnishings are perfect! Their relationship is not great – but all of that is put on the back burner when Nora’s sister Kiki has a crisis, and Nora has to go and look after her nephew, Ted. Nora and Kiki don’t not get on – but just haven’t really been in each others lives much – so Nora and Ted don’t really know each other at all. Nora also hasn’t had her own children – so dealing with a seven year old is a whole new ball game for her.
The book looks at familial relationships – and siblings who perceive their own individual ‘truths’ from their upbringings (oh how relevant #WilliamandHarry) – along with the power of friendships. Exploring mental health issues is obviously something close to the author’s heart – and she’s been open about her own son’s issues with depression and suicidal thoughts – and that is very evident in the powerful and ‘real’ descriptions of Kiki’s own troubles in this book.
Interspersed with the main storyline of Nora’s family – there is also a series of chapters and letters from Senor Agosti trying to track down Nora and Kiki to return a painting to them that their father did when they were children. This is a lovely other strand to the book – and I do wonder what happens to M&M after the book finishes. Maybe a sort of sequel?!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Picking Up The Pieces and would definitely recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.