Monday, 14 June 2021

Waiting to Begin - Amanda Prowse

About the book… 

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: what would you risk for a shot at happiness?

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

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About the author… 

Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty seven novels and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles 'What Have I Done?', 'Perfect Daughter', 'My Husband's Wife', 'The Girl in the Corner', 'The Things I Know' and ‘The Day She Came Back’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5's 'The Jeremy Vine Show' and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as 'The queen of family drama' Amanda's novel, 'A Mother's Story' won the coveted Sainsbury's eBook of the year Award while 'Perfect Daughter' was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.

Amanda's ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can't possibly read another book until the memory fades...

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Say hello on Twitter:  @MrsAmandaProwse

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My thoughts…

Waiting to Begin centres around Bessie’s life, yo-yo’ing back and forth between 1984 and 2021.  Her life as a happy, innocent 16 year old, with plans for the future in and the reality of today aged 53.

This was such a nostalgic read.  I loved reading of Bess and best friend Michelle’s hopes and dreams - the music, the clothes, the food, the innocence, a time of simple pleasures and big plans - it took me right back to when I was 16 in 1984. 

Fast forward to 2021 and life for Bess should be bliss, she’s married to devoted husband Mario, has two beautiful children but she’s not living her best life.  She’s internalised her feelings and is floating through life, existing but not living.

Several things happened in her past that shaped her future and her life comes crashing down on her 53rd birthday.  Her birthday should be a day to be celebrated, but a voice from the past unlocks a torrent of emotion that pushes her to a place she’s not sure she can return from.

The characterisations and raw emotion of Bess’s interactions with her family on the day of her 53rd birthday were intense and amplified the story, it was like the words we as readers read were written in another unidentifiable language for Bess  - as a reader I felt she was walking a thin line, I felt anxious for her and wondered which way the story would go.  Her husband, children, best friend and parents all there for her on the day, wishing her happy birthday but Bessie was so broken transported back to 1984 in her mind that their kind words and wishes fell on deaf ears - the inner voice in her head telling her she wasn’t good enough, wasn’t enough - she was a failure louder. She’d lived the best part of three decades going through the motions, existing not living and had become quite bitter, mean and dismissive with it.

As the story unravelled my opinions and thoughts of Bess spanned every emotion possible.  I pitied her, felt sad for her, felt her pain and anguish but at times didn’t really like the person she had become, small minded and at times quite mean and unfeeling - particularly where her parents were concerned. I loved them, their life pretty much stuck in the past, enjoying the simple pleasures of life - their love of their family shone from the pages, outwardly proud of them all no matter what.  With knowledge and the full story I came to a greater understanding of Bess’s character and my heart broke at the years wasted, how she’d lived with the consequences of both her own and her peers words and actions of that summers day back in 1984.

Waiting to Begin was both painful and endearing to read in equal measures book. Highlighting the importance of family, trust, communication and the power of words and actions.  They can shatter or lift a person depending on that persons state of mind at the time.  How decisions made at times of high emotion can shape and impact our lives without us ever realising quite how much.

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