Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this contemporary novel by The Book Club on Facebook & the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All views are my own. This review contains an affiliate link.
I am a huge fan of classic novels, particularly those with strong female leads, but I also have an enormous soft spot for contemporary fiction. “All We Have Lost” features business woman, wife and mother Kim who really does seem to have it all. She runs a successful PR agency, is married to the good looking Ian – the love of her life, has two lovely young children, a great nanny to care for them and supportive family and friends. Kim knows her own mind, has life mapped out and is certain where she is headed. Or is she?
For one day Kim wakes up and realises that this isn’t the road she wants to be on at all. She rarely sees her children, her home is virtually run by another woman and her husband sees more of the children than he does her. Add to this her parents’ “perfect marriage” that Kim has placed on a pedestal since her father’s death, and suddenly Kim feels like she is in fact failing. She decides to wind the business down, let the nanny go and be an author who happens to be a stay at home mum. Her husband is on trial for a new job, she has always aspired to writing like her best friend Sarah and she is certain that she can work this around the needs of 2 preschool children. How hard could it be?
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I think that any parent – particularly the mums out there – will be able to relate to this, working or stay at home! Of course Kim has no idea just how demanding caring for young children can be. A 2 year old just will not stick to your carefully constructed time table allowing mum time to write her novel whilst the tot naps. Add in cooking, housework and a bit of writer’s block into the mix and suddenly the grass isn’t greener on the other side. I really enjoyed the way that Aimee Alexander showed Kim’s gradual decline from a business woman in control, to a woman who was “letting herself go” and suddenly felt powerless to take back that control. How many of us can empathise with the gradual weight gain (gym, who has time to visit the gym with young children?), the lack of regular personal grooming time (feel grateful if your hair sees the backside of a brush daily, let alone regular visits for a blow dry at the salon) and the overwhelming tiredness that strikes before hubby even gets home (from his fourth late night of the week). But it should be ok if only Kim can start writing – and yet even this is not the easy task that she has imagined.
The author shows just how quickly and easily relationships can change – in Kim’s situation it is not just her marital relationship, but also that with her mother and her friends too. Failure to communicate leads to misunderstandings, jumping to the wrong conclusions, reading signals incorrectly and great hurt. At times I found myself becoming so frustrated with Kim and Ian, wanting to shout at them to stand still, take a breath and look what is happening. Kim seems to become completely hung up on her world at home, forgetting that the very things that she complains about in Ian in his new job were her not so long ago. Ian is so intent on making up for the fact that he is suddenly the main breadwinner and also feels he has to prove himself in his new job, that he becomes unable to communicate his concerns to a wife who no longer seems to have time for him. Aghhhh – I can see your relationship falling apart and yet neither of you can. It is a testament to Ms Alexander’s writing that I could also feel Kim’s envy for her friend Sarah’s life as an author, yet also hear the alarm bells ringing loudly to warn Kim that her decisions were having awful consequences and yet she didn’t seem to see it. Misunderstandings and knee jerk reactions have such devastating effects for all the people that Kim holds dear – including the children.
There are no schmaltzy happy endings for every character here. This is real life and certain actions cannot be undone or forgiven. I admire the additional change in the relationship between Kim and her mother – how a mother’s desire to protect her children can have devastating consequences if lies are uncovered, even years later. I laughed and I cried with the characters in this book and I found them to be believable. The visit to a single friend’s modern flat with 2 young children for a long weekend did make me smile – you will understand when you read it! The author even examines that age old chestnut – can a man and a woman ever be just good friends?
In my opinion an enjoyable contemporary novel about real life relationships that gets 4 stars!
About the Author:
Aimee Alexander is the pen name of best selling author Denise Deegan who writes contemporary family dramas about ordinary people who become extraordinary in crisis. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House and Hachette.
Aimee lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies. She has a Masters in Public Relations and has been a college lecturer, nurse, china restorer, pharmaceutical sales rep, public relations executive and entrepreneur. (taken from Author’s Amazon page)
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (20 Dec. 2015)
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