So yesterday I woke up feeling a little ‘tired’ (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the gin-and-tonic-Rick-Astley-concert-combination of the night before…). And with echoes of this running through my head:
I decided that the best I could achieve for the day was reading something ‘light’.
I picked up The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers (my advance copy is thanks to Atria Books via NetGalley. The book will be released February 12, 2013).
I read the book in a day (good sign). I found it heart-breaking. Not crying-with-snot kind of heart-breaking, just very sad.
It’s the story of Tia who falls in love with Nathan, a man she can never have (married, father of two sons, not leaving his wife). When Tia discovers she’s pregnant, Nathan leaves. Tia decides to give the baby (a girl), up for adoption.
“She’d spent many hours crying during this year of Nathan. A man with a family couldn’t spare a whole lot of attention.”
The baby is adopted by Caroline and her husband, Peter. Caroline is dedicated to her job (a noble role as a pathologist searching for a cure for paediatric cancer) and reluctantly adopts the baby to please her husband, all the while questioning her role as a mother.
Juliette considers her life ideal: a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons and a thriving business. Then she discovers Nathan’s affair. He promises he’ll never stray again and she trusts him.
Fast forward five years when the three women’s lives collide.
The characters in The Comfort of Lies may be considerd stereotypical by some. I don’t think so. Each of the women had flaws that were difficult to ‘admit’. Tia doesn’t keep her baby because she didn’t want a daily reminder of the man she loved (isn’t that selfish, when giving a baby up for adoption is often considered the most unselfish act?); Caroline dares not complain about her child or being a parent because as an adopting mother, she should feel lucky and grateful all of the time; and Juliette is angry. At everyone. But she’s not sure why. ‘Everyone’ expects her anger to have more direction, more focus.
There are no major plot twists. There’s a satisfactory ending. That sounds a little bland but the book is anything but. Through the three women you glimpse different brands of desperation, different types of love, the power of loyalties and the pressure to do what’s ‘right’.
It’s a shame that this book will be thrown in the ‘chick-lit’ heap – it’s more thoughtful than the hot-pink-high-heels-and-handbags stuff and is in no way humourous (which I expect from my hard-core chick-lit).This book won’t change your life but as far as chick-lit goes, it’s tightly written, perfectly paced and compelling. And reading it from a mother’s perspective (and there are quite a few mothers in the story), it pulls at the heartstrings –
“Tia’s fantasies of motherhood weren’t grand visions. She yearned for the comforts of simple physical and mundane mothering; daily maternal tasks such as pouring milk and braiding her daughter’s hair had become her daydreams.”
There’s numerous references to rich, buttery and ‘sinful’ food in this book. Am I more attuned to food mentions than other readers? I don’t know… But in this case, the number of references to food making people fat, food that was indulgent, food that was rich and food eaten ‘in secret’ was actually a little weird. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I love Black Forest Cake (one of the indulgences included in The Comfort of Lies). Cakes aren’t my comfort food but I do like a good slice of Schwarzwald Kirsch Kuchen (as I came to know it during my student-exchange to Germany, many years ago).
4/5 Mothers reading this book – I challenge you to read it without casting yourself in each role *impossible*.