I keep forgetting the name of the main character of this book so if I start talking about Marie or Nicky (who are *not* characters in this book,) I mean Nina.
I don't *think* I've done it - but it's possible!
Nina's family is perfectly perfect. She lives a life of privilege far removed from her poor upbringing.
But all of that is about to change.
With her husband's death, she learns of the financial problems he was keeping from her. The future of herself and her sons is suddenly not so certain...
As always for Amanda Prowse's books, this is exceptionally well-written, and chock-full of complex characters.
Prowse excels at female characters - ordinary women facing the problems ordinary women face, whether those problems are ordinary or extraordinary.
Her characters have layers, don't always know what to do, react to different situations based on their own traits and experiences, and generally are a joy to read!
I've said it before, and I'm sure at some point I'll say it again:
It's only because Amanda Prowse is a woman, writing about women's issues, and female characters, that she's relegated to 'women's fiction' as opposed to 'literary fiction.'
I personally don't think either women's fiction or literary fiction are legitimate genres as opposed to marketing techniques. But there y'have it! 😉
I like Nina's slow realisations that her marriage was not everything she had convinced herself that it was.
The 'perfect' marriage of her thoughts in the first few chapters is slowly but gradually shown to be what it was - loving, yes, but also unhealthy.
Her husband was not the perfect man she had drawn him to be.
And with that, she finds the way to push herself out of his shadow, and into the light.
Despite what she herself seems on the surface, Nina is not weak. Nina is strong as hell.
- loss of a spouse; loss of a parent
- repossession of property
- implied possibility of suicide
- implied emotional abuse
- car accidents
- family tensions
The main 'plot-hole' here was a simple yet annoying one: why the hell didn't Nina claim any benefits?!
In the UK, people on a low income or without work are entitled to state benefits to help them, y'know, *live.*
Since Nina supposedly grew up poor in Southampton I'd expect her to go to the Job Centre to sign on for Jobseeker's Allowance.
Or she could've not *wanted* to sign on, because of how difficult it is, or the stigma, etc. But to not mention, or consider, benefits at all?
Like, not even housing benefit to help her with the rent? Especially considering she's supposed to be down to her last £20 or so?
Not realistic, and comes across as a glaring gap in the author's knowledge of being poor (or even just not well-off,) in the UK.
Also, her sons are damned annoying.
I totally get why she gives them lee-way all the time - this is a massive shock for them, and she's their mum, and she loves them; but dudes, you DO NOT speak to your mother like that!!!
Also, the relationship between Nina and her husband is never out-right described as controlling and emotionally abusive.
Nina does realise, little by little, that the way he treated her wasn't right, but to many people this won't go far enough.
She also still loves him - again, this is perhaps realistic when it comes to the complexities of abusive relationships, but to many people this will be both upsetting and inexcusable.