It’s always so exciting for me to be on a blog tour for a local South African author, especially when it’s someone who I know! I’m here today, rounding up the tour for The Heart Warrior’s Mother.
There’s an old Yiddish proverb that says: “We plan, God laughs.” I’m sure that all of us can agree with this, regardless of which spiritual entity we choose to place our faith in. It certainly applies in this case.
Kerry-Anne Aarons and her husband Imran Patel already have a gorgeous little boy when she unexpectedly falls pregnant. They hadn’t planned on having another child yet. They don’t really have any support nearby in the form of people they can rely on to help, and they’re certainly not in the financial position to support a second child. But … don’t they say that every child brings its own gifts?
The pregnancy is uneventful until week 35 when Kerry-Anne is put on bed rest, and just two weeks later Lily Aarons-Patel makes her early appearance. Almost immediately the doctors tell her parents that they suspect something is amiss. However, they tell them it’s nothing to worry about and that they’ll give her a course of antibiotics and all should be fine. Kerry-Anne reminds Imran that when their son was born, a similar thing happened and he’d been absolutely fine. But that’s not what happens this time.
When Lily doesn’t respond to the antibiotics, further tests are done and it’s discovered that she has a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). And so begins a nightmare of a journey through hell that sees Kerry-Anne and Imran learning terminology they never knew existed; fighting with medical aids for Lily’s right to the very oxygen she so desperately needs to keep her alive; an endless rollercoaster of trips to the hospital, medication schedules, doctors; and always, that feeling of agonising anxiety that just never leaves … it’s never-ending! The truth is, that until you’re in a desperate situation, you don’t need to have all this knowledge – but then suddenly you’re thrown in the deep end and there’s so much information to deal with that you’re drowning in in! They question every single decision they’ve made that got them to this point, both as individuals and as a couple. Kerry-Anne even starts to wonder if her mother is right – her hyper-critical, unhelpful, snob of a mother – is this the payback she’d warned her about for marrying out of her faith?
The Heart Warrior’s Mother is inspired by a true story. The author has kept all medical facts accurate and the actual medical incidents she’s included are all completely authentic. Did you know that one in 100 children is born with CHD?! What a shocking statistic! It’s approximately 60 times more prevalent than childhood cancer!
Reading this book takes you on a gut-wrenching journey with the family of a sick child. You’re there ever step of the way. You’ll hold your breath, you’ll gasp, your stomach will plummet, you’ll cheer at each baby step of progress, you’ll rage at the many injustices that occur, and you’ll shed buckets of tears. But you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the story of this little heart warrior with the fighting spirit of a tiger.
Marilyn Cohen De Villiers has written with empathy and compassion, moulding each of her characters so perfectly so that the reader will engage with them and gain a true understanding of their struggles. There are family, friends, colleagues, fellow ICU parents (the description of ICU ‘etiquette’ is so moving), and the doctors and nursing staff who all form the new reality that Kerry-Anne and Imran find themselves living in. These have all been created with skill and purpose by the author to represent this new normal.
With this book, Marilyn hopes to raise awareness of CHD. A percentage of the proceeds of this novel will be donated to the Children’s Cardiac Foundation of Africa, an organisation that funds lifesaving heart surgery for children across the continent.
I interviewed Marilyn for my radio show last month, and I’m thrilled to be a part of her blog tour too. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me.
I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, the youngest daughter of an extraordinarily ordinary, happy, stable, traditional (rather than observant) Jewish family. After matriculating at Northview High School, I went to Rhodes University in Grahamstown where I served on the Student’s Representative Council (SRC), competed (badly) in synchronised swimming and completed a B. Journalism degree. This was followed by a “totally useless” – according to my parents – English Honours degree (first class), also at Rhodes.
With the dawning of the turbulent 1980s, I started my career as a reporter on a daily newspaper, working first in the news and later, the finance departments. During this period, I interviewed, among others, Frank Sinatra, Jeffrey Archer, Eugene Terre’blanche and Desmond Tutu. I caught crocodiles; avoided rocks and tear smoke canisters in various South African townships as protests and unrest against the Apartheid government intensified; stayed awake through interminable city council meetings and criminal and civil court cases – and learned to interpret balance sheets.
I also married my news editor, Poen de Villiers. Despite all the odds against us coming as we did from totally different backgrounds, we remained happily married for 32 years and three days. Poen passed away as a result of diabetes complications on 15 March, 2015.
After the birth of our two daughters, I ‘crossed over’ into Public Relations with its regular hours and predictability. My writing – articles, media releases, opinion and thought leadership pieces and so on – was published regularly in newspapers and other media, usually under someone else’s by-line. I returned to my roots as a journalist in a freelance capacity some six years ago, writing mainly business and IT articles.
So why, after a lifetime of writing non-fiction, did I decide to try my hand at fiction?
The catalyst was the unexpected death of a childhood friend and colleague in 2012. This spurred me to take stock of my life, to think about what I had achieved. A few months later, I decided to try and write a novel. This turned out to be A Beautiful Family which was published in July 2014. The fiction bug had bitten, and my second novel, When Time Fails, was launched in September 2015, followed by Deceive and Defend, in 2018. Although this was not intended when I first started writing fiction, the three novels together constitute The Silverman Saga trilogy
Unlike my earlier novels, my latest book, The Heart Warrior’s Mother, was inspired by a true story.
Social Media Links – www.marilyncohendevilliers.com