I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Alice Alone by Amanda Brookfield
Published by Boldwood Books Ltd on February 17, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance, Contemporary, Holiday, Coming of Age, Family Life, Marriage & Divorce, Siblings, City Life, Feminist, Mashups, Later in Life, Urban & Street Lit, World Literature, England, 21st Century, General
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
On the day that her youngest child leaves home, Alice Hatton discovers two disturbing truths in a matter of hours.
The Empty Nest cliche is true.
And she does not love her husband Peter at all.
Now in her fifties, Alice is appalled to realise that she is no longer considered her own person, but is instead defined by her relationships – mother to her adult children, wife to her husband. Horrified by the thought of spending another thirty years with Peter in their North London suburb, Alice decides to take matters into her own hands.
What follows is a triumphant and liberating breaking of all the rules. But when Alice must cope with loss for the second time in as many years, she discovers what even the most apparently ‘respectable ‘woman is capable of.
Join Amanda Brookfield as she revisits her first novel, Alice Alone, and rediscover how she got her well-deserved reputation for writing about women’s lives with humour and honesty. Includes a brand new foreword from the author.
Praise for Amanda Brookfield:
'An engaging, emotionally-charged and intriguing story' Michelle Gorman
'No one gets to the heart of human relationships quite so perceptively as Brookfield.' The Mirror
'Unputdownable. Perceptive. Poignant. I loved it.' bestselling author Patricia Scanlan on Before I Knew You
'If Joanna Trollope is the queen of the Aga Saga, then Amanda Brookfield must be a strong contender for princess.' Oxford Times
What readers are saying about Amanda Brookfield:
‘I felt so involved in this story that I found myself thinking about it a lot during the day. A fantastic read. Gripping, moving, characters you care about, highly recommend.’
‘Packed with suspense, (I actually held my breath during some of the scenes) and full of relatable characters, this book will draw you in from the first page. Highly recommend.’
‘The tension builds on every page, the characters, as always with this author’s books, are drawn beautifully. I couldn’t put it down and am looking forward greatly to Amanda Brookfield’s next offering hopefully before too long!’
‘Brookfield is undoubtedly one of Britain's foremost chroniclers of human relationships. It goes without saying that this novel is another page turner – guaranteed to make you read the last 50 pages before sleep, even though you know you have an early start in the morning – but it is much, much more.’
Alice Alone made me suddenly realise the impending sense of what’s to come. With my eldest child approaching his 16th birthday, it gave me a sense of dread of the empty nest syndrome that awaits me in the none too far away future. How will I react when they start flying the nest? It sounds absolutely horrid. A bit like Alice, I’m a stay-at-home mum that has devoted her entire life to rearing my children, the impending thought that one day soon, I won’t have them to constantly care for is a bit grim. Maybe I’ll start collecting dogs!
The author nailed how women of Alice’s generation generally aspired to getting married and having children. Their careers were put on the back burner and were expected to attend to every whim of their husbands and kids. It’s ghastly. I mean I’m not opposed to women doing that if they wish, some are very family orientated and that’s ok BUT if a woman doesn’t want to have children and husband then all the more power to them for their decisions. One thing that pisses me off thinking back was my own mothers’ attitudes to parenting and marriage. When getting a bit plumper in my teenage years I was told it was good, that it would benefit me when having kids – birthing hips she called it. I’m really glad attitudes have moved on.
Alice Alone was an extremely well written story that I did enjoy but some things about the protagonist, Alice Hatton kind of irked me. I understand her feelings of melancholy when her youngest child Robin left home for Birmingham. She felt at a loss, didn’t have someone to run around after (although at twenty years old, why Alice had to run after her, I’m at a loss.) She dyes her hair from her natural grey to a beautiful brunette. Instantly she feared the reaction of her husband, because of all reasons that a barrister’s wife should look I guess contrite next to her husband. Jesus Christ, its only hair dye!
So, on it goes, Alice trying to find out who she really is after basically losing her identify of a mother. She hasn’t really lost it just its evolving I would say. She accidentally meets Horatio, after her husband stands her up in favour of work, the less I say about the delightful Peter Hatton the better. The two share a meal and a drink and she ends back at his club where they share a night of passion. I was a bit sceptical about Alice’s reaction about the act. Even if she has been a committed wife and mother all of those years, she can’t surely be that unwise about where the evening was leading. It seems Alice can only get validation in being needed by others and I found that very sad indeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My twin brother and I were born in 1960 to Foreign Office parents having a spell in England between postings. I would have liked a more exotic place of birth, (like my two elder sisters, born in Saigon and Singapore respectively), but had to settle instead for St George’s hospital, in Hyde Park, where it then was. With four kids under the age of four and no disposable nappies or washing machines, my Mum was pretty pleased when they headed off to man the British Consulate in Shanghai for a couple of years, a job that involved living in a grand house in a compound with hot and cold running servants. We even had a governess – a lovely person who is still a family friend – as there was no school for us to attend. So protected was our world, that we only really left the compound for ballet and piano lessons, or tea parties with the children of other diplomats. I can remember still the sea of faces that would press up against the car as our driver edged through the crowded streets, the bafflement of being stared at.
I was six when we left Shanghai, rushed out – as I learnt later – because of the Cultural Revolution, which was just starting and which saw many dear friends of my parents tortured or imprisoned. After that we lived in Germany for three years where I had my first experience of ‘proper’ education at an international preparatory school – a melting-pot of cultures and creeds that gave me my first inkling of how tough and complicated the world could be. But it wasn’t until returning to London, aged 9, that I had my first brush with real unhappiness, feeling like an outsider at my starchy girls day school and missing my brother and sisters who had been despatched to boarding school ahead of me in preparation for the next posting abroad. When that posting came – to Stockholm – I too was sent away – to Godolphin School in Salisbury – but settled quickly and happily, secure in the knowledge that I was making friends to whom I wouldn’t have to say an eventual goodbye. The relief remains vivid – several of them are close to me still.
I would recommend Stockholm to any teenager interested in parties,skiing, boating and ice hockey…every holiday was an adventure and left me and my siblings with a bond that remains to this day. Returning to England at the end of the seventies, things got a little more serious with A levels and university applications. To everyone’s intense surprise (especially my own) I was offered a place at Oxford to study English, a subject chosen mostly because I could think of nothing more pleasurable than a licence to readbooks for three years! In fact, there was so much reading – the course was a chronological jaunt from Anglo Saxon to modern literature – that it was a long while after my finals before I even considered picking up a novel for relaxation ie simply to enjoy the story rather than trying to think of something clever to say about it.
After such a peripatetic childhood, I had no intention of working anywhere but England. I joined a London advertising agency as an account manager, where I spent a lot of time envying the ‘creatives’ – paid to write words and draw pictures – but still had a lot of fun. A good salary, a company car – I was doing okay, when the academic with whom I had cosily set up house, joined the Foreign Office, accepted a posting to Buenos Aires and asked me to marry him….Reader, I did. There followed four incredible years in South America, during the course of which I worked – with mixed results – as a freelance journalist and wrote (with rather more success) my first two novels. Oh yes, and that’s where I had the first of my two wonderful sons.
A career path, like a life, is a zigzagging, mercurial thing, much easier to make sense of in retrospect than at the time. Mine has had so many ups and downs it would take a memoirs to do justice to them. Suffice it to say that I started writing partly out of a sort of curiosity, just to see if I could, and partly to keep myself sane – in those days diplomatic wives abroad were still not allowed official jobs. Being a novelist dove-tailed well with being a mother, that was another plus.
But the main thing was that I got totally hooked on the power of telling a story, of creating characters and letting them wend their way in and out of the dramas and crises that constitute the business of being human. It helps me make sense of the world; gives some shape to the million fleeting moments that matter to all of us, good and bad. Life whizzes so, don’t you find? Writing gives me the illusion that I’m catching some of it – for me, and for you too, I hope.