24 February 2012
Book Review: The Great Escape by Fiona Gibson
So she fires off invitations to a hen weekend – just the ticket to get her into the marrying mood. Trouble is…
New mum Sadie is leaving her twin babies for the very first time with their terrified dad…
Lou is unaware that her long-term man Spike is desperate to bundle her onto that Glasgow-bound train so he can hot-foot it round to see his secret fling Miranda…
And, unbeknown to the girls, Johnny, their sexy upstairs neighbour from their art college days, is still frequenting those haunts, desperately in need of a little magic to happen."
I have read a few of Fiona Gibson's novels now, and when I pick them up I am always guaranteed a laugh as I find her stories about motherhood very funny, and my favourite of her books so far has definitely been last year's release Mum On The Run. I loved the cover for this book straight away, it looks very fun with the bright colours and funny picture, but to be honest, that's a little bit deceiving as I felt this book was a little more hard reading than her previous novels, and certainly the subject matters are a bit more serious as well. The book deals with the issues of step-parenting, infidelity, finding yourself after having children amongst others, and I felt these topics made for good reading and I really enjoyed the story as a whole.
The book follows 3 close friends who have known each other since their university days. Hannah is marrying Ryan, but is struggling with the reality of being step mum to his children, and the everyday trials and tribulations that presents. So she decides to head back to Scotland for her hen do, where her and 2 best friends Sadie and Lou all went to University. Things aren't as easy as they seem though... Sadie is now mum to baby twin boys, and is nervous about leaving them alone with husband Barney for the first time. Lou is in a relationship with boyfriend Spike but would be the first to admit they're stuck in a rut. She's puzzled about why Spike sold his precious guitar to help fund her trip to Scotland as well. The characters are all a great group of friends, and I found myself liking them and their stories because they were all very realistic and readable.
My favourite character of the lot was probably new mum Sadie. I think every mum can relate to the nerves of leaving their baby for the first time, even if it is with their dad and I liked how Gibson wrote Sadie's trepidation and worry really well and believably. You could really feel for her and how lost she felt when she became a mum, left her old home and moved to a quiet village where she knew no-one except for hubby Barney. I loved Sadie, although I did find Hannah very likeable too. She is getting a bit unsure about her impending marriage but only because she's worried her fiance's children don't like her. I'm sure any step-mother can sympathise with Hannah and her problems, but Gibson writes it very well and I found these scenes quite awkward to read so think they must be realistic!! My least favourite was Lou, she was a bit blinded about Spike and his extra-curricular activites, letting him doss around at home while she works all hours, and I wanted her to grow a bit of a backbone and tell him to get lost and to get her life back!
While the book is mainly set in London with Lou and Hannah, I far more enjoyed it when the characters went up to Scotland. It isn't somewhere I have ever visited, but I could imagine it perfectly in my mind thanks to Gibson's writing bringing it alive. I loved all the scenes, from those in the daytime to the girls clubbing at night with their new friend that they met on the train, and I loved the twist that happened in this part of the book as well. The reappearance of a friend from their old Uni lives shakes up everything for the 3 women, and I enjoyed the way it went with them after he came back on the scene. It also caused ramifications for some people in the book, and it was a good way to kick start everything in the book to make it all right between these characters. Another thing I loved was the way Gibson didn't ignore the stories of the men being left behind when the women went to Scotland, instead their stories are continued, and I especially loved reading how Barney was coping with his twin boys, and it certainly made him realise how hard wife Sadie works
I found this to be very different to the other books by Fiona Gibson I have read before, not quite as funny and light-hearted, instead choosing to focus on the more serious side of these 3 relationships, and how friendship changes over the year as circumstances change. I loved the characters, and found myself really caring about them, which I always think is the sign of a really good book. Don't be fooled by the cover which I think will make people think it's a soft, comedy read because it's so much more than that, and I found myself really wound into the lives of Hannah, Sadie and Lou. If you've enjoyed Gibson's earlier books, then I'm sure you will like this one but if you haven't yet discovered her as an author, I would recommend this one as a good starting point, it's a well written, enjoyable and good novel about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, relationships and accepting change all around you! Recommended.
You can buy The Great Escape as a paperback or as an eBook now.