Today I am absolutely delighted, but also still a little emotional, to be on the blog tour for The Food of Love by the gorgeous (both inside and out!) Amanda Prowse. Her books are always the highlight of my reading year and I’m thrilled to bring you my review today.
About this book…
A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.
Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.
But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.
In this compelling and heart-wrenching new work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse, one ordinary family tackles unexpected difficulties and discovers that love can find its way through life’s darkest moments.
Oh my goodness! I had to leave the room after reading this as I got very emotional and yes, just a little bit tearful, when I finished the last few gut wrenching pages. I’d spent a lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa reading and once I had finished, I needed to just catch my breath so I went into the kitchen to do what I always do if I need some time to think and relax-I cooked. But after reading such a strongly structured book about a family struggling to cope with one of their daughters having an eating disorder, being in my kitchen actually made me think MORE about this book and didn’t take my mind off it one little bit. I realised that in my family food plays such an enormous part in who we are and how we interact with each other. I looked at the huge dining table we have that’s now old and scratched but I love it so much because of the memories of our Sunday lunches, birthday teas and Christmas dinners which started as just us and our girls but now includes their partners and children as well. To us family is food! The girls still come into the kitchen to talk to me as I cook and bake, stealing corners of still warm banana bread or munching on cheese and crackers while I’m whizzing up some homemade soup for lunch. And that’s what made me feel so sad as I read this book because it made me realise just how lucky we all are.
My mum has always used the Eleanor Roosevelt quote “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water” and that was the first thing that popped into my head when I met Freya in The Food of Love. She is happily married (possibly even a smug happily married!) to Lockie with teenage daughters Charlotte and Lexie. Being a mum to teenage girls is a tough job (I know!!!) but the unexpected horror of discovering Lexie is anorexic comes as a HUGE shock to all the family. Amanda Prowse doesn’t shrink away from showing this awful condition in its shocking entirety, stripping away the layers of romanticism of what people assume is just a desire to be slim. It’s such a misunderstand mental health issue and I hope this book will bring some clarity to a very difficult to raise subject. She shows a family desperate to understand what is happening to their child and their utter helplessness in a situation that is totally beyond their control. As a mother, you would assume that the character I empathised with most would be Freya but my heart went out to Charlotte, who was forced to take a back seat in her family while her parents put their entire focus onto Lexie and getting her “better”. I didn’t like the way Lockie behaved throughout certain events that happened but think it was a brilliant illustration of how many men struggle to deal with this type of family dilemma.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nobody does domestic drama like Amanda Prowse. She writes about characters who could be any one of our friends or family….or even us. She has a gift for understanding family dynamics and making her fictional families feel like real people. I always feel like an emotionally wrung out wreck after finishing her books-I don’t know how she does it!
This is another triumph for Amanda Prowse. From the moment I saw that breathtakingly beautiful cover I knew this was going to be one of the most heartbreaking and emotive portraits of a normal family thrown into turmoil that I have ever read. I think this is by far one of her most powerful books to date so be prepared for a wave of emotions that will stay with you long after you’ve put it down.
Many thanks to Simeon Prowse for my review copy of The Food of Love and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
The Food of Love was published on 1st December by Lake Union Publishing and is available here at Amazon UK.
Meet the author…
Amanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author twelve novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world.
Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments.
Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio, but her first love is and will always be writing.