15 September 2009
Book Review: The Stepmothers Support Group by Sam Baker
This novel is the third for author Sam Baker, who is also the editor of "Red" magazine. The novel is based around female friendships, and how women adapt to looking after someone else's children as a step-parent, a job I don't at all envy! The book has a gorgeous pink and red themed cover and is definitely one that will stand out on your bookshelf. However, I don't think the cover gives away enough about how good a book this is, and it certainly isn't all that light and fluffy like the cover image might lead you to believe. Don't let the girlie cover of this book put you off - it's a meaty read, and very enjoyable too.
The main character of the book is Eve. She's a career girl, working hard in her job on a magazine, and in love with Ian. The only problem is that he comes with his 3 children by dead wife Caro, and Eve isn't at all sure of herself with children. We join the book when Ian is introducing Eve to his children for the first time, and it was very cringing in parts! I think Baker has done a great job in describing the situation perfectly and getting on paper the emotions of both the adults and children in the scenario. Just from this opening scene, I knew the rest of the book was going to match up and be a riveting read. The other characters include her best friend Clare, step mums Melanie and Mandy, and Clare's sister Lily - each of them were real women and you can imagine them being your friend and walking down the street, and this is what made the book so enjoyable for me.
What I really loved about this book is that it showed both the negatives and positives of the different relationships throughout. It shows how awkward a step-parent/child bond can be and how children don't necessarily accept the adults in their life even when you desperately want them to. Baker really captures the emotion of the children in the book, feeling pushed out, disliking their parent moving on and dislike of the new adult in their life. You can see the relationships change as the book goes on, and it was very realistic and I enjoyed it.
The adult relationships were written well too. Eve and Ian's partnership was a very good read and realistic too. It was clear that they were different people who loved each other, but had different ideas about family life. Eve and Clare's relationship was the other main one in the book, and was very touching as it is a friendship from childhood that withstands anything - you just wish you had one of your own like this when you read the book! I really enjoyed the way the realism of it - Eve and Clare fought, didn't speak to each other, just like in real life and Baker really gets into the head of these women.
I think these days this book is more relevant than ever because there seem to be a lot of "blended families" around, and of course they don't all work out as you want them to. Sam Baker's writing is what made this book so enjoyable for me, it was such an easy read and the writing style was so readable, you couldn't put the book down and I was just desperate to find out how things were going to work out for Eve and Clare. The book details the good, the bad and the ugly but there is a lot of happiness in this book too. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and loved every page. When I finished it, I felt like I had lost a group of friends because the book is so involving and I was truly gutted to turn the last page. An excellent read, and very highly recommended - one of my top reads of 2009 without a doubt.
Thank you to the publishers Harper Collins for sending me a copy to review.