3 January 2008

Book Review: The Yorkshire Pudding Club by Milly Johnson

"Three South Yorkshire friends, all on the cusp of 40, fall pregnant at the same time following a visit to an ancient fertility symbol. For Helen, it's a dream come true, although her husband is not as thrilled about it as she had hoped. Not only wrestling with painful ghosts of the past, Helen has to deal with the fact that her outwardly perfect marriage is crumbling before her eyes. For Janey, it is an unmitigated disaster as she has just been offered the career break of a life-time. And she has no idea either how it could possibly have happened, seeing as she and her ecstatic husband George were always so careful over contraception. For Elizabeth, it is mind-numbing, because she knows people like her shouldn't have children. Damaged by her dysfunctional childhood and emotionally lost, she not only has to contend with carrying a child she doubts she can ever love, but she also has to deal with the return to her life of a man whose love she must deny herself."

What I enjoyed most abot the novel was the easy way in which the author has weaved the stories of the three women with that of the other women. It reads so easily and wonderfully, you just can just lose yourself in the story, it is so absorbing and a simple joy to read! Throughout the book, the story switches regularly from focussing on one of the women then to another, and often with chapters containing them all together. This is a great technique in the book and makes it veryenjoyable for the reader.

Each of the characters are well written and you feel as if you know all of the women. You are given a history on all of them, and we fully go into their lives and feelings about being pregnant, from discovering they are expecting right up to the birth of one of the children. Helen's character started as being the one I disliked the most, but by the end I had the most respect for her and was willing it all to work out for her! Elizabeth was a very hard character to like, a woman who didn't like anyone getting close to her, and this is how the author has written her as well. And finally Janey is the comic relief throughout the book, and probably my favourite character. Each of the women are very different, yet all are fundamentally the same, experiencing everything together, and have a wonderful friendship which is lovely to read.

I also liked the human aspect of the story, watching each woman cope with the pregnancy and reading about how their feelings changed towards the baby by the end of the book. As well as the main 3 characters, there are several supporting characters too. John is the one Elizabeth let go, but he's moved back to town and befriends her once more. George is Janey's husband, a man so desperate to be a father he'd do anything to have a baby with his wife. Simon is Helen's slime-ball of a husband, and someone I absolutely detested. I found the scenes between these 2 particularly hard to read. There were also the work colleagues of the characters but they don't really need a mention! The male characters in the book were also well written and their feelings weren't left out which is a sign of a great writer.

For a debut novel, I think this one is amazing. I was hooked right from the start and just couldn't put it down. The story is a wonderful one to read and just reads so incredibly well. You are taken right into the lives of these women and so many emotions and secrets are revealed throughout the book, you are left guessing about certain things right up until the end. The author has a wonderful writing style which makes for easy and simple reading, yet managing to keep you hooked as well. The book is written in the third person which allows for easy switching between the characters. Simply superb, I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone. A pure joy to read. 

Rating: 5/5

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