** Read our exclusive interview with Claire Allan here **
Aoife is in an on/off relationship with Jake, but things hit the skids permanently when Aoife finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. Jake doesn't want to know so she is left to deal with the hormones of pregnancy and shocks of birth all alone. She hasn't even got her mum because they don't get on, and they're back home in Ireland while she's in London.
On the other hand, her best friend Beth and husband Dan have been secretly trying to get pregnant with no success, and they're devastated. They put on a brave front to Aoife, but inside they're falling apart. Why can't Beth just tell her best friend of her woes? Will Aoife and Jake work it out, or is someone special lurking around the corner?
I've not read any of author Claire Allan's book before, and after reading this debut novel I will definitely be looking out for her work from now on! Unfortunately, she's published by Poolbeg Press which is an Irish publisher and so the books aren't readily available in the shops here, although can be found on Poolbeg's Website and Amazon too. This is Claire Allan's second novel; her first, Rainy Days and Tuesdays, was a big success in Ireland. This novel tackles hard-hitting issues such as unexpected pregnancy and infertility so it isn't always an easy read but still a great one.
The book is the tale of 2 best friends, and is told as such as well. The chapters alternate between Aoife's tale and Beth's tale, so we get to see the story from each of their perspectives. I enjoyed this way of writing because of the secret element of Beth's problems, so it was good to read how things seemed for Aoife and then the reality of Beth. Allan has chosen to write in the first person which I don't always like when there is a multiple person narrative, but it seems to work in this book and I didn't find it any more of a struggle to read than if it were written in another way!
The characters were both really likeable, and you can relate to them both in different ways. They are very normal women, women you can imagine having a chat with and so you can come to care about their story and how things are going to end up for them. Although things seem like they are going to end with the oh-so-predictable ending, the journey takes a few twists and turns and I enjoyed the tangents the book went off in. It certainly kept my attention and wasn't a chore to read either - in fact I didn't want to put it down and finished it in a weekend, no mean feat when you've got a mad 3 year old at home!
The issues covered in the book will be all too real for some women, but Claire Allan writes them in a sympathetic and factual way that doesn't offend the reader and intrigues you to the subject whether it affects you or not. Allan does write in some detail about the less lovely parts of motherhood such as leaky boobs, the havoc birth can inflict on your body and several dozen mentions of the female anatomy but it doesn't offend and isn't out of place so isn't that big an issue to me, but just thought I would put a little warning in case that sort of thing isn't what you like to read about!
It seems that Irish authors can do no wrong for me at the moment! This was an absolutely joyful read, and I was really sad when it ended because I was desperate to find out more about the lives and loves of both Beth and Aoife. I found the writing style really easy to follow and I didn't have to concentrate too hard to really enjoy reading this one. The story does cover a big time period but doesn't seem to move too quickly for the reader, and the journey the characters take is fun to read and is truly heart-warming. Their friendship is lovely to read and the book is a great example of best friends and how important they can be. A lovely book, funny and heart-warming, and highly recommended from me!
Thank you to the publishers POOLBEG for sending us a copy to review.