Published by Hodder
The heartbreaking novel from the author of CHOOSE ME, about the sacrifices parents must make and the anguish that can befall them. When Monica is offered a three-month placement in LA, she knows that for the sake of her career she must accept it – even though it means leaving behind nine-year-old Ruby, toddler Luca and her husband Daniel. She hires Ursula as a housekeeper and nanny during her absence, although the older woman is oddly reluctant to agree to a childcare position. What is the dark secret in Ursula’s past, which has left her so closed-off and reserved? Will her growing attachment to Ruby bring it to the surface? And will Monica regret leaving the children in her care?
Away From You is definitely one for the ‘Chicken Soup’ pile. It begins with the contentious subject of a mother leaving her young children for 3 months in order to further her career.. This left me a bit at odds with myself, having put my career completely aside whilst my children are young.
I remember recently being sent an invitation to apply for a role that included some time overseas for training. It was for my dream role and the prospect of travel was so exciting. Of course, the idea was swiftly dismissed and the email deleted. My children are 9 and 4 – far too young for me to go swanning off and leaving them! But I was still left with an ‘Oh wouldn’t that have been fantastic?’ sort of feeling. Now, reading about Monica and her situation, I couldn’t decide if I admired her bravery or if I was disgusted by her selfishness.
The book is written in a way that is endearing and refreshing. Focussing in the main on the perspectives of Monica; her 9 year old daughter Ruby; and Ursula, the hired home help for whilst Monica is away.
I was particularly enthralled with the chapters dedicated to Ruby’s perspective. She is an extremely insightful young girl, yet still exhibits the innocence and naivety appropriate for her age. She is just the most darling little girl; and say what you want about Monica’s decision to leave, she had obviously done a stellar job with her children thus far.
Initially, I was led to believe that Monica was the main protagonist of this story, but strangely enough I found myself kind of forgetting about her. She was out of sight, out of mind; and this reflected in the other characters’ failure to mention her quite as often as they used to.
My focus swiftly turned to Ursula. Ursula was prim, professional, exact… cold even. And I instinctively knew there was a story behind her detachedness, a reason for her cool behaviour and lack of emotion. But it wasn’t until Ursula’s armour started slipping – in the main due to the endearing Ruby – that I discovered just what had left Ursula so devoid of tenderness. And it turned out to be something so utterly devastating, so totally inconceivable, that it is a wonder she was still functioning at all.
Kay Langdale does a fantastic job of delving into the deeper aspects of parenthood and all it means. With beautiful, gentle, and quite poetic prose; genuine characters that you will fall in love with, and a story that will emotionally ruin you, Away From You will break your heart then renew your faith in the healing power of friendship.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.