Friday, August 11, 2017

[Book Review] The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Nina McCarrick has it all: a loving husband, two beautiful boys, a well-appointed home and more time than she knows what to do with. Life is perfect. Until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Part 2: Recommendation

Amanda Prowse does it again. This is the second book of hers that I've read, thanks to Net Galley and it's powerful… emotional… triumphant even. I want to read more about Nina, Tiggy, Connor and Declan, Gilly and the girls.

The plot is simple but emotionally charged beginning with Finn's death and discovering the financial difficulty they are all in. Nina's reaction to everything was believable and readers can't help but cheer her on as she tries to put the remaining pieces of their lives together in a less posh neighborhood aka the life she's known before Finn. I love that there's more to Connor than the usual teen angst and its lovely to see both boys grow into people with character and integrity and kindness. I feel that the boys from Kings Norton College could definitely learn and grow into.

In the scene where Kathy Topps was asking Nina if Declan would like to join her son Henry for tennis lessons and saying that, "…they learn so much better when there's an element of competition in it, …" I quite agree with Nina when she thought, "… it's the worst way to teach things. Who needs that added pressure?"

On p.15 the words "Oh no… That can't happen now. That won't happen again. There it was: the realization like a door slamming in her mind… bang!" resonated so much with me as my family is still grieving over the loss of my mother-in-law, and it does feel like that every time you thought of or do something and make a mental note to share that with your dearly departed loved ones, it does feel like a door slamming once you realize they're not physically there anymore.

On p.25 when Connor asked Nina "That's nowhere near my school. It's on the other side of town. He was heading out of the city. He wasn't on his way to watch me play rugby, was he?" it adds to Mr. Monroe's supposition when he said, "And I hate to think that I am the one who might be shedding light on Finn's untimely death…"

On p.28 when Declan said to Nina and Tiggy, "…but I hope that people [when they die and go to heaven] get to have a rest, either because they are very old and tired or because they were very busy, like Dad" made me very sad and hopeful at the same time that when our time comes and we die, that we too get to rest and that we don't have any spiritual chores to do.

My heart was filled with both sadness for Nina and rage at Finn when I came across the note Finn left behind, "My Nina, Things are hard for me — I feel like I am living in a world made of glass and with every day comes a new pressure that is pushing down down down and I don't know what will break first, me or my world…" If only Finn was strong enough, brave enough to share this burden with Nina and the kids, maybe together they all will be able to find a way to fix it. But Finn broke first.

And my favorite lines from the book first appeared on p.85 when Nina remembered the words from her own mother upon receiving a glass marble, "This is a little world, Nina. And if ever the real world feels too big or too scary, remember that it is nothing more than a little ball traveling through space and it fits right into the palm of your hand and the more courage you have, the braver you are when facing it, the easier it is to conquer!" which was repeated at the end.

As always, Amanda Prowse, is a gifted storyteller and writer. Emotions leap out at you and grabs hold of you until the very end. A quick read and all the characters feel real. I love seeing Nina grow from a timid mousy character into a brave, confident woman with friends she actually enjoys. I enjoyed seeing Connor and Declan also grow from feeling entitled to learning and showing compassion and kindness to others. I love how Nina's relationship with her sister, Tiggy, grow warm and affectionate as sisters ought to be. It's not easy but you sure have to try, just like with any relationship.

If you like a well-written, emotionally charged book with a good ending and memorable characters, set in Bath and Southampton and marketed as Women's Fiction, you will not regret picking this one up.

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