31 August 2011

Book Review: The Empty Nesters by Nina Bell

Clover Jones and Laura Dangerfield have been best friends since their children were born. Along with Clover's stylish, powerful friend, Alice, they share holidays, sleepovers, school runs and childcare. They're like one big family. But all families have their secrets. When the children leave home, Clover and Laura's lives and marriages change forever, and the old rules on love and loyalty no longer apply. And when Alice decides she wants what they've got, Clover and Laura have to find out who they really are. Without the children, can their marriages - and friendship - survive?

I've read most of Nina Bell's previous books and really enjoyed them - they are great family dramas and really draw you in when you're reading them which is what I love from a book. I have to say that when I saw the cover for her latest book The Empty Nesters I wasn't initially impressed - it looked a bit bland and didn't jump out at me like her previous covers had done at all. However, when I received a copy I thought it was actually quite nice and after reading it, I see how it fits in with the story too. As usual, Bell has delivered on her dramatic family dramas and although I felt this one was a bit of a slow burner at first, I soon found myself engrossed in it and not wanting to put it down!

What I really liked about this book was how the character's enabled you to really get involved in their lives and see what was going on between not only the group of parents, but the children too. Clover, Laura and Alice are the main three adult females in the book and all flawed in their own ways. Clover tries to rescue people too much, Laura is in a rut with her marriage and doing something she knows is awfully wrong, and Alice is being a bit too over-bearing with her daughter Lola, and also a big ignorant of what Clover is doing for her as a friend. I really disliked Alice, and couldn't find anything I liked about her at all - she's your worst nightmare of a friend and parent to be honest! On the other hand, I felt Clover and Laura were written as really good parents, and as a mum myself I could understand Laura's pain in letting her only child go away from her, I felt Bell really captured her pain.

The male characters are also very important in the book. We have Tim, Laura's husband who is about to go through a major period in his life which will make or break his marriage, George, Clover's husband who is being a bit secretive and leading Clover to be a bit suspicious about his activities and Duncan, a single dad who is new to the group. I felt Bell wrote her male characters to be just as important as the female ones in some respects, which is a nice thing in this genre since male characters sometimes take the backseat. I really enjoyed reading Tim's story, yes it isn't particularly nice to read about but I felt it was well covered and the reactions of both Tim and Laura to the issue were very realistic. I actually felt realism was felt throughout the book regarding the characters, their emotions and reactions to things that happened and that made it a very enjoyable read.

Although the adult characters in this book were much older than me, probably around double my age actually, I didn't find it hard to relate to the book at all, and you'll find this one you'll relate to very easily if you are a parent! My son is only 5 yet I dread the day he goes off to University, and so I felt I was really able to relate to Laura in this instance when I was reading. The younger characters were also very well written, although they didn't appear too frequently in the book. I felt Bell's writing was very easy to read and enjoy, and the third person narrative worked well for the multiple characters being used in the book. Her descriptions of not only people and feelings, but places, surroundings and the like allow the book to come to life in your head as you are reading. I did find the start a little slow if I'm honest, which is what knocked the book down from a 5 star to a 4 star, but I persevered and I am glad I did as I would have missed out on a really great book. I very much enjoyed reading it, and loved the revelations that are revealed as the book progressed, one involving Laura that I never saw coming at all until it was revealed! If you love books about families or dramas, then you are going to love The Empty Nesters, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Ooh i like!!!!
    Arrived today so excited to read now...i don't have kids (puppy doesn't count does it!)
    But iv liked her previous releases so I'm sure il enjoy :-)

    Oh the cover,no i really don't like sorry!! What's with the art department's these last few months.....all new releases (bar maby 2) have been really uninspiring!!!

  2. This was on my wishlist to read, and this review has made me all the more eager to read it. Thanks!