What they say:
It’s not easy being a grown-up, but at 47, Eleanor hoped she’d be better at it by now…
When Eleanor waves her daughter off for a gap-year trip, she finds herself stuck as a satellite wife, spinning in faithful orbit around her domineering husband, with only her clever but judgmental father Conrad for comfort.
Andrew isn’t mastering the art of growing up either. But when he finds his belongings dumped in bin bags on the drive, even he can see that his girlfriend is hinting he should move out. With no other options, he moves back in with his parents.
Backing onto their garden lives artist Cecilia, living in chaotic clutter and dreaming of her ex-lovers, still acting like a stroppy teenager at the age of 66.
Four lives are drawn together by long-buried secrets of the past, and it is time for them all to grow up… before it’s too late.
The Review: To start of with the greatest of apologies for this: the one day I chose to take off social media, was actually the day I should have been on, promoting this, he brilliant Growing UP For Beginners by Claire Calman. I have no excuse, except that for some reason I had the 5th June in my head (I’ve checked and my diary says the 4th). The greatest of apologies to both Ms. Calman and Boldwood Books and of course Rachel and thanks to all for the book in return for an honest review.
From the very beginning of this book I was mesmerised as it addressed an issue that many people possibly think nothing of, but was something I used to do a long time ago as a teenager, back when I read hugely different genres to those I read today. Whereas now I read pretty much solely rom coms and thrillers, back then I read ya, horror, thrillers, detectives, romance, romantic comedy, science fiction (I know, you can’t see it, can you? Also, yes, you are going to have to pull up a chair for this one!)
The issue we saw early on in the book was that of skipping to the last page before you’d read the book. I always always did this, possibly to see that the lead would still be there and alright, but I don’t totally know. Moving back to this, we meet Eleanor, who does the same thing, only her husband doesn’t agree with it. Yes, you’ll know how I feel about Roger, who played a prank on his honeymoon some twenty years before, and I was a bit shocked at how sad I was for Eleanor, that someone thought that something someone felt so strongly about could be made into a joke like that. And that was what this book does so well, the pure love/hate feelings that really grip you and then suddenly you feel for someone you didn’t expect to. There were many characters in this and the book went back in time to show us some family dynamics that I was absolutely glued to, trying to figure out who was related to who and how they impacted others! I was surprised as I willed someone on I hadn’t expected to and couldn’t wait to find out where it would all lead and in the end we got there, the satisfying end I wanted after a great read that had me gripped throughout. Very much recommended!
About the author
Claire Calman (b.1964) has written five novels. Her first, Love is a Four-Letter Word, became a bestseller. Her latest novel, Growing Up for Beginners, will be published on 4 June 2020. She has also written numerous short stories for anthologies and magazines, and has performed her comic verse live and on radio, including for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
‘What fascinates me is what makes people tick,’ says Calman. ‘Why do we act and react in ways that won’t necessarily make us happy?’
She says conventional romance doesn’t interest her. What intrigues her is struggle and conflict – people yearning for happiness, but finding it hard to get there. But she also hates books with depressing endings. ‘Life is difficult enough for most people,’ she says. ‘I want a novel that doesn’t leave me feeling worse than when I started it. I want – not a sugar-coated ending I don’t believe in – but some glimmer of hope, or redemption, a sense of absolute rightness.’
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