What They Say: Rosy loved her London life – her job in a designer shop, her gorgeous West London family house and of course her gorgeous family (although young sons are enough to test anyone at times). All that disappears when, one unremarkable morning, after one unremarkable school run, her husband collapses on a crowded tube carriage and dies.
As she struggles her way through the grief, she discovers her husband’s secret life: secrets accounts, secret deals that their solicitor knew nothing of, secret debts and what looks like a secret “very close friend” at least.
Totally unprepared and suddenly in debt, Rosy is forced to leave London to start a new life with her incredibly reluctant boys in the countryside. Can angsty urban teenagers cope with farm life, let alone enjoy it? More to the point, can their mother? It’s certainly not going to be easy but when you are at rock bottom the only way is up.
The Review: I had seen this book around a lot and loved the premise of it. I’m always a sucker for books where everything’s turned on its head and the characters have to start afresh. This book was everything I thought it would be and then some. I began it by warming to her husband, of course forgetting the blurb straight away, and then getting a shock when he collapsed. It hit me in the stomach and I kept thinking two things: first: ‘Tell him that you love him,’ and secondly, how
“Simon gestured apologetically to their disappearing backs, having missed their last waves”
as my eyes flew on trying to take it all in while trying to hold back the ‘what would I do?’ thoughts. Because believe me, a lot of them come with this book. Ms. Birley has the gift of taking you along on the story with her, while showing you that the main character, Rosy, like you or I, never expected the rug to be pulled out from under her feet. It was something that would happen to somebody else, and I really empathised with her. I frowned in agreement as she pondered the financial intricacies that come with the loss of one of the principal bread earner and wondered how her part-time job would pay the bills.
The next part, the changing of their location from city to countryside, was done brilliantly. I loved the descriptions and the detail and was hooked, always good when you’ve such a drastic change in location, as sometimes your mind favours one over the other. Even as the shocks (and there are some biggies) came, Rosy continued to put a brave face on and I loved her strength, her decisions, her reasoning. Actually I just loved her and all the other characters that performed their duties perfectly, in particular, I wanted to hug her older son James and best friend Emma and felt for her younger son Archie while wanting to throttle him! My opinions of people (including her husband) went up and down in parallel with Rosy’s, which I appreciated. I also welcomed the introduction of the vet, Henry Carpenter, and a special mention has to go to the introduction of Theo Williams (you’ll get to know him when you read;)) Ups, downs, surprises (some a tiny bit out there, but acceptable in such a great book), romance, comedy and a genius story-line on the way that Rosy decides to keep the house afloat – this was a book I devoured, smiling with satisfaction afterwards. Highly recommended for all chick lit fans. Thanks to the author and Hello Chick Lit for the book in return for an honest review. Oh and stay tuned for an author interview with Ms. Birley on Thursday:)