20 October 2009

Book Review: Expecting Emily by Clare Dowling

Emily is expecting. She is 34 weeks pregnant, her ankles are swollen, her hair is falling out and she's worried about the baby. Now she's been passed over for partnership in the firm of solicitors where she puts in more than 48 hours a week. And if that weren't enough it looks as if her husband, the piano-playing Conor, may have been running his fingers over more than the ivories while on tour in Germany. Depressed, demoted and about to deliver, Emily's not going to take this lying down... 

The cover of Expecting Emily had a quote by Cathy Kelly saying the novel was "Very funny and original" and I thought that was a good sign since I very much enjoy reading Cathy Kelly. The book started introducing us to the main character, a heavily pregnant Emily Collins. The first scenes in the book take place in an ante-natal ward of a hospital in Cork so we know straight away Emily is pregnant, and this is what the whole book is centred around.Emily has a husband, Connor, and the two of them are not getting on as well as Emily would like, especially considering she is carrying their child. She finds out a secret about her husband which rocks the boat of their marriage, and Emily doesn't know if she wants to be around her husband after his life-shattering secrets comes out.

Emily is admitted to hospital one evening with suspected pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition for pregnant women involving high blood pressure. The medical side of the book is extremely well researched and talked about in the book very easily. You can tell the author completely understands what she is writing about, and does not seem out of her depth with any of the medical jargon she uses in the book.Her colleague Neasa, comes to visit Emily to report on what is going on where they work, at a solicitor's office. Emily is cross because she has been passed over for promotion by Neasa's boyfriend (secret boyfriend in the office) and doesn't know if she wants to return to work once their baby is born. We see a bit of Neasa throughout the book, and her relationship with Gary is covered in the book, although it isn't the ideal one!

Another drama running through the book is that the hospital Emily is admitted to, which is not the privaate hospital she should have been at, is going to be closed. Emily at first is not bothered about its closure, but the longer she is on the ward at St Martha's, she decided she wants to fight and use her legal expertise to keep it open! The pages around this in the novel tend to go on a bit.

We do not see much of Emily's family, and it is clear that she doesn't get on that well with her mother and her sister. Her sister had 5 children, and they are the boys from hell! Emily doesn't feel she can go to her sister for advice, and the relationship between the two is not a happy sisterly one. Emily's mother Pam is a strict religious woman, and she is never overly affectionate and close with her daughter, and I thought this was quite sad, as when a woman is pregnant, she needs her mum the most!

If I am honest, I found the first half of the book fantastic. I got really into it, and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to Emily and her baby, and how Emily and her husband Connor were going to sort it out. But after the first half, the book almost lost it's way and carried on plodding along at a nice pace but nothing really happened in a few hundred pages! The eventual birth of Emily's baby happens very quickly, and we don't really know anything about it, and Emily's life with the baby. The book is realistic in that the pregnancy and medical conditions are fantastically described, and the relationships you can tell aren't all going to be magically healed, but I really lost interest towards to the end and I felt I was reading just to find out what happened, rather than because I was enjoying it.I think it is a good read, and I will be trying another of Clare Dowling's book, but if I find that the same thing happens in her next novel, I am not sure I will try a third.

Rating: 4/5

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