Review of a great contemporary novel! “All We Have Lost” by Aimee Alexander

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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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All We Have Lost

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:

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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)

Buy the novel on Amazon by clicking here:

Dear Hubby….

Dear Hubby,

I woke up this morning wondering how we got here.  If we had known on this day all those years ago what was in store, I wonder if you..or I…would have turned up at Chelsea Registrar’s office?Scan0023

But we did, and here we are, having weathered the storms, the unexpected, the joys and some dark times.  Back then it was just going to be us and your beloved Lotus 7, having been told that babies were not likely when I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome aged 20.  The first storm – for you at least – was the realisation, soon after we bought our flat in Fulham, that we couldn’t afford the parking space to go with it! So the first Lotus 7 had to be sold as leaving it on the road – even the posh road to Bishop’s Park and the Palace that we overlooked – was not going to happen.  Scan0025

Of course at this time we had no idea about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – had never heard of it – we just knew I had a host of problems and had already undergone major back surgery and was very bendy. Life in London was great, wasn’t it?  I don’t think that brand new kitchen was cooked in very often as we dined out down the Kings Road or in Fulham most nights.  But all good things come to an end, and you began craving another sports car(!) so the hunt was on to move out of London.  Soon after the move to our first house came another joy in the shape of a second Lotus 7. But within months came probably our biggest unexpected piece of news….I went to the GP for a once over before starting a new job, feeling generally unwell – and came out 3 months pregnant whilst taking HRT.  Hmmm….that little 2 seater didn’t last long either.

There has been redundancy; more babies – including the tummy bug that didn’t go….oops! your little girl…..3 caesarians & increasing back pain; another house move to the same road as your in laws(!); hideous working hours for us both, including 6 day weeks and night shifts; increasing migraines; more dislocations; IBS; school choices; more back pain and finally on the eve of Obama’s first term in office – the straw that broke this nurse’s back!  Then a career lost – permanently.

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And 2 becomes..5

We are quite a few years on and many more major surgeries to add to the list.  Not forgetting the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome diagnosis – for me and the kids.  A life threatening illness for one of our parents and then your own health taking the full brunt of all our traumas. That was a scary time for us all to watch you disintegrate.

But…..we are here still standing – you at least! Me – I spend more time on the ground these days (laugh everyone!).  The kids had to grow up fast and have all turned out to be pretty bright (not sure where that came from), independent & resourceful – so long as we’re not talking about tidiness and cleaning!!  We have had to accept that I need you to officially be my “carer” – which I still hate – as my health declines, and this has been hard for us both having worked and earned from the age of 18.

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Look what arrived today!

But…..with a bit of juggling, fantastic parents and wonderful friends we are doing ok, aren’t we?  No we haven’t any money for holidays, and we worry about being unable to help the kids out financially, but this has led to our young adults working and earning – be it paper rounds, babysitting or writing websites! We are spending more time together as a family, you are enjoying setting up your own small venture and taking on a role at the kids’ old primary school, which has been the making of you. Who would have thought it a couple of years ago!  You never – or rarely – complain about me and I do know that on those really bad days, when the pain flares and I can’t settle, or the black dog (not Sam!) surfaces I can be awful to live with.  Plus there are the endless trips to hospitals across London and the different specialists to keep track of.

Neither of us signed up for this, but then you never know what is round the corner. In a funny sort of way maybe life is actually more fulfilling now.  We certainly both have almost encyclopaedic knowledge of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and all that goes with it!

So back to the beginning…..it was a pretty dreary day and actually raining when we walked out as Mr & Mrs (at least I did prevent you walking me over the road to Stamford Park!) 25 years ago.  But today has been a bright, beautiful autumn day – Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary, hubby!Scan0024

love Claire x

Dear Hubby

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