This is… Denise.
Married to Ray, her first and only love, Denise has never for one moment regretted putting the husband she idolised on a pedestal above everyone and everything else. But, after forty years of marriage, he is gone, leaving Denise to discover that their perfect marriage was fatally flawed. Now she faces a future alone, but first, she must face the betrayals of the past.
This is… Claire.
The estranged daughter of Denise, the woman who put her husband before her children, Claire took the opposite path and devoted her life to raising her family, sacrificing her marriage along the way. With her teenage sons about to flee the nest, she realises she may have left it too late to find her own happy-ever-after.
This is the story of two women, both alone, both cautionary tales of one of motherhood’s biggest decisions.
Who is more important, your partner or your children? And what happens if you make the wrong choice?
Guest Post – This Is Me- Shari Low – The Writer’s Soundtrack
Once upon a time there was a young teenager who would stay up all night reading Jackie Collins novels under her duvet, using the light of the electric blanket so she wouldn’t get caught. As she read those bonktastic tales of sexy stuff and scandals, she would dream of being a writer and imagine what that life would be like. In her fantasy future as an author, she’d lie by her kidney-shaped swimming pool in LA, sipping a mojito, while the strains of Bon Jovi blared in the background. Oh, and she’d be a size ten, perfectly groomed and the kind of woman who always wore knickers that matched her bra.
Cue sound of that big “uh-uh” buzzer that signifies a wrong answer on Family Fortunes.
The reality? That teenager somehow managed to survive electric-blanket heat-stroke and grew up to be a writer. Yay! But as for the rest of the fantasy? Nope, didn’t happen that way. There’s no kidney-shaped pool, no mojitos, her make up bag is somewhere at the bottom of the ironing pile and her underwear drawer is a riot.
And the soundtrack that plays while she writes her books? Forget rock music. In this house, it’s been a very different cacophony of noise. If it were an album, it would be called 18 Years Of Motherhood.
I’ve penned 24 books since I was pregnant with my first child.
In the early days, with two tiny sons (my second child came 16 months after his brother), I wrote my first few books while listening to the Teletubbies making unintelligible sounds that somehow kept the toddlers transfixed.
Next came a couple of years of, “Muuuuuuuuuuuum, he’s annoying me!”
Then “Muuuuuuuuuuuum, where’s my gym kit/school tie / packed lunch?” My kids did love an elongated vowel.
Thankfully, they soon discovered sports, so for a long time, I typed to the thud of a basketball being bounced outside my window.
Then the teenage years dawned and their dulcet tones dropped a few octaves as they bellowed, “Mum, can I get a lift to the gym / my pal’s house / a party, please?”
It wasn’t what I’d envisaged when I dreamt of being a writer but I wouldn’t change a single moment of it, because now? Silence.
One son has already left home at 16, off to follow his athletic dreams, and the other one is about to follow him out the door.
So what happens next?
That’s the dilemma facing Claire in This Is Me. She’s the daughter of a mother who always made her feel utterly unimportant, so she has dedicated her life to bringing up her children, sacrificing her marriage along the way. Now, she’s facing an empty nest and the prospect of building a new life.
Meanwhile, her mother, Denise, had just lost the husband she adored, and worse, she is discovering that she devoted forty years to a man who may have been living a lie. Two women, both alone, but can either of them find new happiness?
It’s a story of secrets, lies, and the choices that women make.
And as for the woman who wrote this book?
I just need to get used to the new soundtrack of my life. In the meantime, I’ll bung on some Bon Jovi and go find a matching bra and knickers.
This Is Me published by Aria May 2nd.
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In December, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You and her latest release, Another Day In Winter. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Website
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘This is Me’ is a story of ordinary people, who are forced to look back on their lives when a pinnacle person in the family dies, unexpectedly. Denise (the mother), is grief-stricken at the loss of her husband Ray. She has devoted her life to him, and now she has no direction. Claire(the daughter) despised her father, and because of him is estranged from her mother. She chose a different path with her children, but now they’re living their lives and she wonders if she should have done more to save her marriage.
This is a story of regret, hindsight and the possibility of a more positive life for both women, but first, they relive and hopefully learn from the important milestones in their lives’ to date. The retro flashbacks in this book are evocative for anyone who lived through them. Youth clubs and David Soul in the late 1970s and Take That and 1999 in the late 1990s and the millennium.
The cast of characters, some of which have appeared before, add depth and interest to the plot. There is a notable disparity between the network of support Claire has, compared to her mother.
Life choices are the key theme to this story, and ones every woman who has a partner and children has to make. Denise and Claire’s choices are husband or children, most people’s choices are less defined and make accommodations to facilitate different times in the child’s life cycle. However, the scenario’s and the characters are believable and realistic.
‘This Is Me’ is a story of family, friends and the dynamics that are part of every family. Claire is determined to be the antithesis of her mother, but in doing so fails to find a balance in her family life. The importance of nurturing in childhood is explored in this story because it shapes the adults we become.
A dramatic interpretation of ordinary lives and relationships filled with emotion, guilt, hate, humour and love, demonstrated through believable, flawed characters. It is both emotional and engaging to read.