Sunday, September 21, 2014

Book Review: Beautiful Day

By Becky Gulc

Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell.

She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life.

Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex-husband can feel like drowning.
Someone needs to throw her a lifeline...

Philip doesn't seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn't know how to live in the real world.

But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?

This is a story of unexpected friendship; of the messy, muddy territory of those broken by life - and what it takes to fix them. It reminds us that the very darkest of days can be funny, heart-warming and even beautiful.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon UK.)

Beautiful Day is the debut novel by Kate Anthony and it’s a book I found to be very emotive and heart-warming, one of those books you’ll remember reading in years to come.

Rachel is someone who is trying (or being forced) to rebuild her life following the break-up of her marriage; her husband now living with the person he was having an affair with. With three children together, there’s the pressure to remain on good terms and manage the break up well, but this is understandably far from easy. I thought Kate tapped into Rachel’s mind-set so well in this respect, exploring the mother who wants everything to remain calm for the sake of her children, but also the mother who battles with her children now having to be away from her every other weekend through no fault of her own, and worse still them spending time with 'Deborah.' Quite frankly she’s a bit bitter about it all.

Rachel doesn’t always manage the ‘front’ she wants to portray to her children and her ex with ease, and this is written so well. I have gone through my parent’s marriage breakdown and I felt huge empathy for how Rachel must have felt and how she acts, whether intentional or not, and also how the children would be feeling throughout this. Although this novel is entirely told through Rachel’s narrative, I felt we still get insight into how the children are coping.

When Rachel begins a new job at a residential home, we see a different side to her. Although as a reader I liked her anyway, it was her work ethic and interaction with Philip that made her such a likeable character, and made it such a beautiful--and different--story. Philip is a new resident who has just lost his mother. With severe learning difficulties and having basically been brought up indoors and fed a diet of white bread, he struggles to adapt to his new home, and his key worker Rachel. With a supportive line manager in Rob, but an obtrusive ultimate boss in Denise, who appears to want to belittle Rachel at every given opportunity, this is a workplace that will provide Rachel with highs and lows and will certainly be a challenge in more ways than Rachel could ever expect. The narrative around the workplace was particularly enjoyable, being very funny and moving, with twists and turns along the way that had me on the edge of my seat.

When the story sees Rachel’s personal and work life come together at different points in the novel I thought it was so touchingly interwoven; Rachel’s children being so lovely with very uplifting moments. I really felt Rachel went on a ‘journey’ in this novel, in her own life but also in her relationships with her children, and the beautifully written character of Philip is a core part of that.

This is a book which I read in next to no time as I couldn’t wait to pick it up. It covers complex issues, but in a beautifully written, touching and sometimes funny way. More please!

Thanks to Penguin UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Janine said...

This sounds really interesting

Carole said...

I've ordered this one from the library. Thanks for the recommendation. Cheers from Carole's Chatter