I’ve always said that Amanda Prowse has the uncanny ability to create characters that are so real that you feel like they’re the kind of women you know. They’re the women you’re familiar with from seeing them pushing a trolley around your local grocery store, or at school pick-up or drop-off times. They’re the ones you smile at and say hello to, and the ones you eventually become friends with, enjoying regular coffee chats with, until eventually they are your circle, your tribe … the people who are your closest companions, who you share all of your mad, sad and bad times with, and of course, your wonderful, fabulous times too! It’s no surprise that the women we meet in Waiting to Begin are these people too!
The story here is told in dual timelines: August 1984, when Bess is turning 16 and August 2021 when she’s turning 53. Maybe I identified so much with Bess because she’s the exact same age as I am! Bess has her whole life ahead of her. She can’t wait to leave home to go and study to be an air hostess, and she’s anxiously waiting for her exam results which will be released today!! Then there’s the school dance to look forward to and some big news to break to her best friend Michelle about a certain boy she’s been secretly seeing. But the day doesn’t exactly work out as she’d been expecting. What do they say about “the best laid plans …”?
Skip ahead to 2021 and it’s Bess’s 53rd birthday. She’s been married to steadfast Mario for quite some time and they have two adult children. Their son is newly married and happily settled down, but it seems that Bess herself is uneasy about her life. Her relationship with her daughter is tense. Her best friend from all those years ago, Michelle, is nowhere to be found. It’s as if she’s uncomfortable with her parents and most of all, her marriage is on very shaky ground. And it’s all because Bess believes that her life never really started.
She’s still waiting for it to begin. Still waiting for the opportunities that have passed her by. Still expecting things to work out differently for her. Still wanting a different outcome. Still believing that this isn’t the life she’s meant to be living.
What happened to that excited, happy young girl with all those plans? How did her life turn out so differently to what she’d planned? How did she become this unhappy, bitter middle-aged woman who feels that her life has been one big disappointment after another, despite being married to such a wonderful man, who clearly loves her, and having two children? Well, it all comes down to choices really. Bess was naive, and had she been just a little bit more savvy, she would have been a lot more aware of the people around her and the influence they had on the choices she was making.
Reading Bess’s story made me think about myself back when I was 16, and all the angst that went with that time in my life. I can laugh about it now, but when you’re a teen, all your emotions and feelings are just so, so BIG! Everything happening to you is just so overwhelmingly HUGE! You don’t see beyond it. You certainly don’t see what effect your choices are going to make on the rest of your life. You’re thinking about fun and friends and now, now, now! If we felt like that back then, I can only imagine the pace at which teens today experience life! And back in 1984, who spoke about ‘stuff’? That wasn’t how we did things, was it? Amanda Prowse perfectly depicts this: the way things were so awkward and nothing was discussed. Easier to ignore it and it will either sort itself out or with a bit of luck just disappear altogether.
But as we see in Bess’s case, not talking about what had happened, and keeping it all bottled up just ate away at her until she just didn’t know where to keep all of those feelings and emotions. She had no clue how to talk about it, or who to talk to. She was angry, bitter and jealous about everyone and everything. It all became just too much for her. I can’t help but wonder, how many women our age are walking around like that today? Mostly due to no fault but the way things were. We talk about ‘trauma’ and ‘healing’ but where does it begin and end? And where does blame and fault come into the equation? Do we need to bear the burden of full responsibility for our past experiences or do we need to learn that some of that is just not our weight to carry?
In her calm and gentle way, Amanda Prowse once again deals with so many of these common issues that many of us carry around, without even realising it. These are conversation starters, a-ha moments, wake-up calls and often simply open-eyed and glaringly obvious answers to long held questions that can now be let go. Waiting to Begin is a 5 star read that will undoubtedly be yet another bestseller for this wonderful and compelling author.
Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the tour. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about Waiting to Begin …
Purchase Link – http://bit.ly/WaitingToBegin_UK
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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