Richard and Judy Review: Dear Thing – Julie Cohen

Richard and Judy Review: Dear Thing – Julie Cohen

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“Claire wants her own child, not Romily’s. And Cohen’s foreword to the book neatly sums up the fairytale story longed for by so many women.”

Richard’s review

Obviously as a man it’s not always easy to comprehend the depth of a woman’s desire to give birth, but I know when Judy lost our first baby when she was five months pregnant, it was devastating for us both. So I do understand the deep sadness and emptiness that a miscarriage can bring. And how hopeless and lost a woman can feel when she feels that her fertility is in doubt.

After we lost our first child we went away to France. Everywhere there were babies – on the beach, in cafes, happy families and breastfeeding mothers. Judy spent most of the time in tears.

So I can see that Julie Cohen’s description of Claire’s unhappiness is spot-on. And I can sympathise with husband Ben’s desire to find a practical solution to their woes by accepting his old friend Romily’s offer to be their surrogate. But a man’s simple practicality cuts no ice with a woman’s deepest and most basic instincts.

Claire wants her own child, not Romily’s. And Cohen’s foreword to the book neatly sums up the fairytale story longed for by so many women.

‘Once upon a time, when we still believed in wished, there lived a prince and a princess. The prince was handsome and clever, and the princess was beautiful and good, and they were deeply in love…

They already wanted you, a perfect child who would make their love complete. But the years went by, and went by… and you never appeared.

It’s not much of a fairy tale, is it?’

“Dear Thing is a warm and sensitive novel about the deep emotional insecurities caused by infertility.”

Judy’s review

Claire has everything, or so thinks her friend Romily. She’s beautiful, happily married to a wonderful and high earning husband and has a stunning home. Romily, by contrast, is an unmarried mother living in a shambolic flat. Romily is also secretly in love with Claire’s husband, Ben, her oldest friend.

It’s an explosive setup; even more so when Claire’s perfect life is exposed as anything but. Desperate to have a baby, she cannot conceive. Then, when she finally does, she miscarries.

Unhappy and desperate, Claire feels a failure. Her husband confides in Romily. Anxious to please the man she has loved for years, Romily offers to be a surrogate mother for the couple. At first Claire is relieved, but as Romily’s pregnancy progresses, the emotional repercussions of the situation swirl to the surface, threatening Claire and Ben’s marriage.

Dear Thing is a warm and sensitive novel about the deep emotional insecurities caused by infertility. Romily, pregnant with Ben’s child, begins to realise she cannot bear the idea of handing the baby over to Claire. Two mothers; one baby. Technically, he belongs to both women – but only one of them can keep him.

The situation is further complicated by Posie, Romily’s young but opinionated daughter, who adores her Auntie Claire and is quite clear about her wish that Clair and Ben could have been her parents. Romily, hard-working, slightly scruffy, poorly-paid, and always pre-occupied, cannot compete with Claire’s perfect lifestyle and Posie lets her mother know it.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for Dear Thing

“Both powerful and thought provoking, this wonderful book will move you to the core – and really make you think.”

The Sun

“An exquisitely crafted novel . . . compelling, fascinating and deeply affecting . . . Julie Cohen is an expert at making you care about her characters, and feel every nuance of emotion as they do. A truly brilliant writer who kept me gripped until the end.”

Rowan Coleman