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Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Women’s Fiction

By Swirl and Thread

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Not Having It All is a story that takes a fun and lively look at the stresses of the working mother. Bea Hudson is a neuropsychologist, struggling to stay on top of her game. Her husband Kurt is currently working in Turkey, leaving Bea to cope with a very tempestuous pre-schooler and a full-time job that demands all her attention. Au pairs come and go as her daughter, Fran, chooses to make life rather difficult but at the moment their latest au pair, Katie, is staying….but only just about!

Bea is very close friends with Madeleine, an artist, a free-bird, who lives a more chilled life, yet longs for a child of her own. Having lucked out with all the recent men she has met, Madeleine feels that her childbearing years are well behind her and craves time with Fran. Bea finds Madeleine’s presence comforting, a release from all the constant pressures in her life and is aware that Fran is a ‘nicer’ child when Madeleine is around. But Kurt is suspicious, convinced that there is more, a lot more, to this friendship between his wife and her artist friend.

‘Mad has special status, I quickly learned. She comes to our home on Bea’s only day off from university to dispense advice on our garden, dog, daughter and myself, and drink copious amounts of camomile tea, spearmint tea or Chablis while watching DVDs about French couples having affairs. She lures Bea away from looking after Fran to go to yoga and pilates classes, and delights in titillating anyone who will listen with stories of her shameless, oh-so-artistic past (the 3Ms – Men, Melodrama and Melancholia)’.

Kurt begins to let his imagination take hold and visualises lots of different scenarios of the shenanigans taking place behind his closed front door. Kurt is exhausted. The travelling is taking it’s toll on his health. He is eating more and drinking more, a lethal combination when combined with the overall fatigue he is experiencing. Using extreme measures, Kurt finally decides to take things into his own hands, with rather disastrous consequences.

Kurt is completely paranoid and seems to have very little respect and trust for the woman he claims to love. Bea is run ragged trying to juggle way too many balls and, with the vibes Kurt is sending her way, Bea is frazzled, confused and generally just angry with how her life has panned out.

Add in a conman, a mad friend, a pooping dog, an au pair with very broken English and a frustrated little girl, it doesn’t take long for Bea’s world to start spiraling way out of control…..

Not Having It All is a madcap romp, a comedy of exaggerated stories but with an all important message at it’s core….trust. The book is written using a series of journal entries from the main protagonists, giving the reader an insight into all the varied perspectives from each character’s view of events as they unfold. The style of the different journal entries didn’t really appeal to me so much, with the use of so many different typefaces, but the content was very amusing with the insane antics of all involved portrayed very well throughout.

Not Having It All is a charming read, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to keep you turning the pages. The perfect read for those days when you just want to switch off and be entertained…

(c) Swirl and Thread

Order your copy online here.

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