Why did I pick this book as my Book of the Month?
When I decided to have a Book of the Month it was for a couple of reason, the obvious being that I wanted to help support Authors of books that I adored last year and show my thanks to them by promoting their latest book. But also, to try new Authors that I hadn’t read before as in this case with Elizabeth Buchan. I was delighted when I received an email from the Publisher’s Michael Joseph at Penguin asking if I would consider reviewing this book. It seemed a perfect time what with Mother’s day coming up this month to feature a book called Daughters!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all mothers want to see their daughters happily settled.
But for Lara, mother to Maudie and stepmother to Jasmine and Eve, realizing this ambition has not been easy.
With an ex-husband embarking on a new marriage, and the surprising and late-blooming developments in her own love life to contend with, Lara has enough to worry about, especially with Eve’s upcoming wedding.
And when she begins to fear that Eve is marrying a man who will only make her unhappy, and Maudie reveals something that shocks the entire family, Lara faces the ultimate dilemma. Does she step in and risk the wrath of her daughters? Or does she stand by and watch them both make what she fears will be the biggest mistakes of their lives?
This is a book that approaches that question I often ask myself, How would I cope bringing up other people’s children? As a single Mother of a daughter, I wonder how I would feel about someone elses child coming into our tight little circle and I can’t help thinking Elizabeth has addressed many of the questions that I have previously thought which made the story so much more real to me.
Lara is a mother to three grown up girls of which two are her Step Children. Throughout their lives she has treated them as her own, but is that how they see it and how does those feelings effect their relationship with their half Sister?
Elizabeth has beautifully written a wonderful, thought-provoking novel about a family who are all entering the next chapter of their lives, whether that is marriage, college or moving home. Such amazing observations from each of the character’s perspective. Whilst Lara is clearly the leading lady of this book, each daughter, the ex husband and new partners all have their own story that threads through the pages. All struggling with the same taboo subject, the thing that is never discussed. They are all strong people in their own way, each have hidden insecurities that make them do what they do as your turn the pages of this book.
This is not a laugh out loud easy breezy Chick Lit, but instead an extremely engaging story that I believe will make you look around and think of your relationships with your Mother’s, Sisters and Daughters as it certainly has me. A truly fabulous book that pulls you into this family with every page.
1) Your books often have very strong family connections and focus on powerful relationships. Do you ever find it hard to switch off from their emotions and go back to your own home life?
That is a really brilliant question and it is not often asked. But, the answer is ‘yes’ it is sometimes. If you are deep into a demanding and emotional situation in a novel, it is difficult to turn off the tap. The novelist is something of a chameleon – maybe we are all would-be actors at heart? – and it is important to remember that the chameleon bit of yourself which is expressing itself dramatically on the page is not a good idea at home. There was one golden moment when I was having – shall we say a creative – difference of opinion with my husband when he looked at me and said: ‘I’m not one of your characters you know’. Point taken.
2) What do you find more complicated to tackle and write? – your short stories or a full novel?
They are both demanding. Of course, short stories are less of a physical slog but a good short story has to work on several levels very quickly. With a novel, you can take fifty or hundred pages to work up to that position. With a short story it has to be established within paragraphs. But, in the endurance stakes, the novel is obviously much more of an undertaking. If I am honest, the novel does take over your life in way that a short story does only briefly.
3) I often wonder if Authors continue to write in the genre because they know their fans adore and very much enjoy writing them, however, is there a story inside you with a completely different genre to what trying to burst out?
Yes and no. Obviously, if you are successful within a certain arena – romantic epic, crime etc – the publisher will have views about a departure. On the other hand, they want happy, creative authors. I feel strongly that labels are for the publishing trade. You, the novelist, have to write what is in your head and the label is the last thing to consider. I began writing historical fiction – the French Revolution, the Second World War – and then found myself concentrating on the contemporary family drama which absorbed me totally. (At that time, I was bringing up small children.) Times have changed, and I can sense a corresponding change in myself. I am deep into a novel about the Resistance in Denmark during the Second World War … I am thinking The Killing/Borgen for the Forties. It may seem a departure but a family drama still lies at the centre of the novel – so it is both a departure and not a departure.
4) What can we expect from your next novel and when will it be available?
I should have finished writing it by early summer. Hopefully, it will be available the summer/autumn of 2013.
5) What was your favourite read of 2011?
It was a novel which had been published for some time – William Boyd’s Any Human Heart. Having seen the television adaptation, I rushed to read it. Painfully honest, funny, and moving, it was amazing in every way. I also loved Millions Like Us, Woman’s Lives in War and Peace 1939-1949 by Virginia Nicholson. If I am ever inclined to complain about my lot, I just dip into it and thank heavens I live now. The other novel I absolutely adored was Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. What a feat to carry off and how brilliantly she did it.