Thank you to Netgalley and the Publishers (Head of Zeus) for the advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Romilly and David meet when they’re at university. She’s a geeky science student who’s passionate about studying bugs (of all things) and he’s a good looking, popular man about campus. Romilly can’t quite believe he’s interested in her, but he is! From the beginning, she’s his ‘Bug Girl’ and what they have is ‘Proper Love’. And right from the start in those heady days of parties and campus digs, they think nothing of a glass of wine or two to go along with the fun.
And then those days are over and they’re grown-ups. Married, successful in their respective careers, settled in their dream house in the suburbs, and with a gorgeous little girl named Celeste. Except that Romilly can’t quite leave those glasses of wine behind her and has progressed from glasses to bottles to get her through the day. She surreptitiously sneaks a glass here and there until she’s completely dependent on them to get her through just about every situation: stress about a visit from her mother-in-law; irritation at a phone conversation with her well-meaning mother; anxiety about David finding out just how worked up she’s getting when she realises how much she’s drinking, but trying to ignore it; upset that she’s shouted at Celeste because she feels guilty at being caught out drinking in the middle of the day; basically just to get her through the day.
Romilly doesn’t only drink wine. There are also bottles of vodka hidden in various spots around the house. She thinks she’s very clever and that she can keep her increasing habit from everyone, and doesn’t realise how noticeable it’s actually becoming – such is the life of an alcoholic, who insists that she’s not an alcoholic. David is naturally concerned at his wife’s erratic behaviour. They’re not students any more. They’re responsible adults, parents who are supposed to be setting an example for their precious child. If he can stop at one glass, then why can’t Romilly? But if he thinks things are difficult now, they’re about to get a whole lot worse as a new neighbour moves into their street and wreaks havoc on their already tenuous existence.
Sara breezes into Romilly’s life and Romilly believes this is the breath of fresh air she’s been waiting for – she has absolutely no inkling that this is the friend your mother warns you to stay away from! Sara is outspoken and funny and she’s also extremely selfish and self-absorbed which all contribute to her being a shockingly negative influence, something that Romilly really doesn’t need.
Amanda Prowse has written an absorbing, heart-wrenching, blatantly honest story about alcoholism and the effects it has not only on the alcoholic themselves, but also on their loved ones, work colleagues and enablers. There are detailed, sometimes painful to read, descriptions of rehab centres, triumphant recoveries and inevitable relapses. Told through the eyes of Romilly and her now adult daughter Celeste we are taken on a turbulent, emotional journey that to the average person seems impossible to understand. Surely the choice is obvious: To drink or not to drink? To an alcoholic it is anything but simple, and this book portrays that clearly. Hopefully it will encourage people to talk openly about an illness that is still sadly and hugely misunderstood.