Love and Fallout, Kathryn Simmonds


Published by Seren Books

Source: Publisher review copy

When Tessa’s best friend organizes a surprise TV makeover, Tessa is horrified. It’s the last thing she needs—her business is on the brink of collapse, her marriage is under strain, and her daughter is more interested in beauty pageants than student politics. What’s more, the “Greenham Common angle” the TV producers have devised reopens some personal history Tessa tried to store away. Then Angela gets in touch, Tessa’s least favorite member of the Greenham gang, and she’s drawn back into her muddy past.

Moving between the present and 1982, and set against the mass protests which touched thousands of women’s lives, Love and Fallout is a book about friendship, motherhood, and the accidents that make us who we are.

This story is divided into two parts, narrated by two different versions of our protagonist; Present-day Tessa – the 50-something under-appreciated wife and mother who spends her days working on charitable causes or sitting on her marriage counsellor’s couch; and Tessa of the past – a lovelorn young woman who decides to join the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in order to find herself and contribute to the righting of the world.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find much to like about this one.

The switch between the two time periods was very easy to follow, as each ‘Tessa’ was given alternate chapters in the main. However, neither version of Tessa was particularly likeable. Young Tessa was a bit weak and pathetic, and older Tessa was self-pitying and indignant.

The whole reality makeover slant is overplayed in the synopsis, as this occurs more as a kick start for the main story – in which very little happened.

There are some moments within the story which I believe were intended to be main events (and apologies for the spoilers here) – Tessa discovering her husband’s infidelity, her arrest at Greenham Common, a fiasco at a beauty pageant in which Tessa’s daughter is a contestant, the untimely death of a Greenham Common friend…however, none were given enough drama for me. It seemed almost as if the author had a lot of good ideas, but didn’t quite know how to develop them and give them the attention they required. If something deeper was intended to be taken from this – like a ‘sisterhood rocks’ message or ‘the universal plight of the mother’… well I’m afraid it didn’t hit me.

Many of the characters seemed under-developed and thus lacked any authenticity. I neither loved nor detested anybody, I was merely left feeling indifferent about a lot of people who could have potentially been very interesting. Unfortunately, I feel far too much page space was given to Tessa’s self-indulgent babbling and not enough to either the characters or the plot.

Having said that, if you are the type that likes a nice, easy read where you can escape into someone else’s eventful yet still somehow boring life; then this might be a nice ‘tea-break’ read for you.

My thanks to Seren Books for providing this book for review.

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