Friday, 8 July 2016

So much can happen in six months ...

Tom Hope is broken.  Ever since his wife Laura dies he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father.  Luckily however, his moth-in-law Linda is there to pick up the pieces and look after his struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.

She decides on drastic action, and in a final attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters, Linda leaves for Australia.  Now, with two fast-maturing girls on his hands. Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.

While Linda finds her journey brings more than she bargained for, Tom suddenly has only himself to rely on.

Will he fall back int grief or finally step yo and be the father his girls need?

Bittersweet, funny and sad, THE HOPE FAMILY CALENDAR is a novel about grief, love and family.

This author (a new one for me) lives in Birmingham which makes me wonder why he set this book in Reigate, the town next to my home town.  Not that I mind, I loved that I could really identify with location of this novel even though they were subject to ‘poetic’ license.  I can honestly say that I have had a cuppa in the local Morrisons’ (previously Safeway); and I know where the Red Lion is.

The story is told through two points of view and deals with loss and I suppose rebirth of each character.  Although the overall tone of this tome is that of loss, this novel is not really depressing.  It shows how a family can deal with loss through the inevitable sadness, and later with irony and humour.

I have not read a Mike Gaye book before but he does give life (for all its foibles) to his characters and you can really relate to them, warts and all.  Each character’s feelings are honest, genuine and therefore easily relatable.  As with life, the story is not totally black and white, there are quite a number of grey areas, not least the unexpected relevel near the end.

What I loved most where the characters, not just the ones whose points of view were represented in the book but also Lola, Evie, Charles and Fran.  These characters are so real and believable, so much so that you could quite easily meet them on a Reigate street.  However, they are not stagnant … the author allows them to grow and mature throughout the novel, so the Hope Family that you meet at the beginning of the book is not the same as that at the end and likewise for the lesser characters.  Don’t get me wrong, they are not flawless which makes them all the more irrelevant.

The family presented in this book is whole and well developed and then the bombshell drops and this novel shows what happens in the fall out.  Each person reacts differently as would be expected and the storytelling in this novel is above par.  This novel deals with a serious subject with great aplomb.  Everyone, at a stage in their life has to deal with grief so why is it such a taboo subject?  This novel hopes to make it more accepted.

All that said, though, the ending did feel unfinished, but then again isn’t that what a lived life is… The main element of the story is hope through adversity and this reader will be looking for more novels by this writer I the future.

Thank you Netglley for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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