Life Begins by Amanda Brookfield
|Life Begins by Amanda Brookfield|
|Genre: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Chloe Spooner|
|Summary: A soon-to-be 40 year old woman tries to start over again with men, friends and her life. A well written and a enjoyable story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: October 2008|
|Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd|
Charlotte Turner is about to turn forty and hopes that means her life is going to get better. She's just got divorced from her husband Martin who is now shacked up with his new girlfriend Cindy, and her son Sam is heading into his teenage years and growing apart from his mum. Charlotte wants to move on but doesn't know where to start. Can she start to mend her relationships and find happiness after the big four-oh?
I haven't read any of Amanda Brookfield's previous novels, so I went into the book without any expectations of her writing. The story sounded quite interesting and I hoped it was going to be a book that I would enjoy a lot. When I began reading the book, I was quite surprised with how I actually struggled to get into the story. I really can't put my finger on why because the characters were great and it was a good read, but it wasn't capturing my imagination enough to want to pick it up at every opportunity. I decided I would persevere and kept picking the book up in the evenings and eventually I did find myself enjoying it more, much to my delight.
The premise of the story being a woman trying to start her life over has been done many a time by authors in this genre but I felt that Amanda Brookfield has really captured the essence of Charlotte's characters wonderfully. She's a busy mum who is trying to keep the peace with her ex-husband for the sake of her son, who has a close group of friends and a mother she doesn't have much contact with. You can see Charlotte tries to do the best by all of her friends and family and this is why I instantly warmed to her, and this is the reason I kept reading - I just wanted to find out how things would pan out for her.
Brookfield writes in a few male interests for Charlotte, and one borders on obsessively creepy, which is a nice humourous addition to the book. As well as Charlotte and her immediate family, we're introduced to her other friends, especially Henry and Theresa who play an important role throughout and therefore feature quite a bit in the book. All the characters are believable and work well with Charlotte. I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Charlotte and Theresa, and all the relationships were fun to read.
Brookfield's writing is very easy to read, she has some lovely descriptions of houses and places allowing you to vividly imagine them as you're reading the book. The book is written in the third person, which was easiest for this book because it does deviate from Charlotte's story occasionally to follow the other minor characters in the book. I didn't struggle with her writing style at all. What interested me most were the chapter beginnings throughout the book (not every chapter, almost every other one) which were flashbacks to Charlotte's childhood written by Charlotte and helped explain things that were written in the present day story. These additions made the book slightly different from other women's fiction novels and really gave a good insight into Charlotte's life.
It was a very enjoyable book overall, and the story was interesting too. It had a good pace with the story travelling along nicely and the flashbacks adding another element to the book. All of the characters were likeable, and it was just a pleasant read. I'll admit I struggled at the beginning but it definitely got better as it went on, with the pace picking up slightly and becoming more readable. I was impressed by Brookfield's story-telling and shall look for more of her material.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Another enjoyable book on the theme of moving on in life is Divas Don't Knit by Gil McNeil.
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