‘Where to begin? Too many thoughts to put down. But if I don’t, they’ll spend what’s left of the night partying in my cerebral cortex and sleep will be even more impossible’
[ About the Book ]
Neuroscientist Bea Hudson fears she is a bad mother and that her career will be thwarted by family life. When her husband suspects Bea of having an affair with her best friend, a chain of events is triggered, leading to a crisis in Bea’s life.
Bea Hudson, a neuropsychologist living in Godalming, is struggling to cope with the challenging behaviour of her obsessive husband Kurt and their disruptive four-year-old daughter Fran. On top of this, her boss is pressuring her to get results from her research. Bea has her work cut out.
Things come to a head when Kurt goes away on an extended business assignment. While sacking staff and drinking heavily, Kurt’s insecurities run amok and he becomes convinced that Bea’s close friend Madeleine is seducing his wife and unduly influencing his daughter.
Meanwhile, childless artist Madeleine sees her friend torn between the demands of work and offers to help with Fran. But when she reveals a startling desire to her unsympathetic therapist Mr Rowley, he advises her to focus on the attention of Colin, a man she met in a lift.
Can Bea survive the demands of her career and the turmoil in her marriage without having a breakdown? Can Madeleine survive Kurt’s anger and find happiness with Colin? And can love survive marriage, middle-age, alcohol and ambition?
[ My Review ]
Not Having It All is the latest novel from Jennie Ensor. Published on 28th May with Bombshell Books, it is described as ‘a mercilessly playful take on modern friendships, relationships and family life….with themes of trust, deception and obsession…’ I was on the blog tour for Not Having It All a few weeks back but, due to a formatting issue on my rather antiquated reader, I was unable to read the text properly. I did host an extract which you can read HERE Jennie Ensor kindly sent me a print copy which I finally got to reading last week so I am delighted to bring you all my review today.
Not Having It All is a story that takes a fun and lively look at the stresses of the working mother. Bea Hudson is a neuropsychologist, struggling to stay on top of her game. Her husband Kurt is currently working in Turkey, leaving Bea to cope with a very tempestuous pre-schooler and a full-time job that demands all her attention. Au pairs come and go as her daughter, Fran, chooses to make life rather difficult but at the moment their latest au pair, Katie, is staying….but only just about!
Bea is very close friends with Madeleine, an artist, a freebird, who lives a more chilled life, yet longs for a child of her own. Having lucked out with all the recent men she has met, Madeleine feels that her childbearing years are well behind her and craves time with Fran. Bea finds Madeleine’s presence comforting, a release from all the constant pressures in her life and is aware that Fran is a ‘nicer’ child when Madeleine is around. But Kurt is suspicious, convinced that there is more, a lot more, to this friendship between his wife and her artist friend.
‘Mad has special status, I quickly learned. She comes to our home on Bea’s only day off from university to dispense advice on our garden, dog, daughter and myself, and drink copious amounts of camomile tea, spearmint tea or Chablis while watching DVDs about French couples having affairs. She lures Bea away from looking after Fran to go to yoga and pilates classes, and delights in titillating anyone who will listen with stories of her shameless, oh-so-artistic past (the 3Ms – Men, Melodrama and Melancholia)’
Kurt begins to let his imagination take hold and visualises lots of different scenarios of the shenanigans taking place behind his closed front door. Kurt is exhausted. The travelling is taking it’s toll on his health. He is eating more and drinking more, a lethal combination when combined with the overall fatigue he is experiencing. Using extreme measures, Kurt finally decides to take things into his own hands, with rather disastrous consequences.
Kurt is completely paranoid and seems to have very little respect and trust for the woman he claims to love. Bea is run ragged trying to juggle way too many balls and, with the vibes Kurt is sending her way, Bea is frazzled, confused and generally just angry with how her life has panned out.
Add in a conman, a mad friend, a pooping dog, an au pair with very broken English and a frustrated little girl, it doesn’t take long for Bea’s world to start spiraling way out of control…..
Not Having It All is a madcap romp, a comedy of exaggerated stories but with an all important message at it’s core….trust. The book is written using a series of journal entries from the main protagonists, giving the reader an insight into all the varied perspectives from each character’s view of events as they unfold. The style of the different journal entries didn’t really appeal to me so much, with the use of so many different typefaces but the content was very amusing with the insane antics of all involved portrayed very well throughout.
Not Having It All is a charming read, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to keep you turning the pages. The perfect read for those days when you just want to switch off and be entertained…
[ Bio ]
Jennie Ensor lives in London and has Irish roots. During a long trip overseas she obtained a Masters in Journalism and began her writing career as a journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to accidents in the mining industry.
Her debut novel BLIND SIDE was published by Unbound in 2016. In January 2018 her short story ‘The Gift’ was placed in the Top 40 of the Words and Women national prose competition. Her poetry has appeared in many UK and overseas publications, most recently Ink Sweat and Tears.
She sings in a chamber choir.
Website & blog: https://jennieensor.com