Monday, 28 May 2012

Book Review - 'Daughters' by Elizabeth Buchan

From the back cover:

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 is proving far from easy.

With Eve's upcoming wedding, Lara has enough to worry about, without also contending with an ex-husband embarking on a new marriage and the surprising, late-blooming developments in her own love life.

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?

I had never heard of Elizabeth Buchan's work but one day in the supermarket (where I seem to buy too many books when I have only popped in for milk) I saw this book and the back grabbed my attention. The family set up seemed complex and the subject matter of life changes intrigued me.

The family set up is indeed complex and well explained. Lara meets Bill who has two daughters from a previous marriage and they marry and have a daughter of their own. When the marriage breaks down unusually Lara keeps her stepchildren and raises the three girls in her house. Because of the marriage breakdown and the children/stepchildren mix, the relationships can be difficult and tense. Lots of resentment, lots of old hurts and lots of honesty in the writing.

Most of the book is written from Lara's point of view (in third person) and it was enlightening and humbling to read from what I guess would be my mum's point of view. The heartache and worry you experience when your children are finding their way in the world is something I have not experienced yet but I thought of my mum often when reading.

The women in this book are the focal point but the men in their lives are obviously important. Their attitudes and the way they are portrayed isn't overly flattering (apart from Lara's new love interest) but I think maybe this was done to show how important the relationships with other women were in the character's lives. I might be wrong but that is my interpretation!

I am not sure I am 100% happy with some aspects of the ending but in truth, the ending is probably the most realistic. Once I was a few chapters in I was engrossed and I love a book that makes me think about my own life and relationships. You can learn more about Elizabeth Buchan's work here.

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