“a compulsively readable book”
In a compulsively readable book, Maggie and Bill first meet as teenagers in Australia. He, British, is on his gap year. She, a native Aussie, is a brilliant young swimmer tipped to be a champion athlete for her country.
It is love at first sight. Much to her parents’ dismay, Maggie falls pregnant. She marries Bill and relocates to London, abandoning her burgeoning sporting career.
The couple are blissfully happy. Bill becomes a successful property developer; they own a lovely home and have a prosperous life. Soon, there are three children: Jake, Aly, and Stan.
What can possibly go wrong?
Eighteen year old Jake, just like his father, takes a gap year between A levels and university. He travels with his two best friends, and on the fateful day of December 26th, 2005, all three are in Thailand.
The devastating Boxing Day tsunami, which killed thousands, sweeps through Jake’s flimsy beach house. He alone perishes. His friends survive, and are plagued by guilt because Jake, massively hung over from a typically student drinking session the night before, was left behind when the others blearily staggered off for a cooked breakfast at a cafe on higher ground.
Back in London, Bill and Maggie are seized by terror as news of the unfolding catastrophe is relayed on their television.
Bill immediately flies to Thailand, determined to find his son. He does. He finds Jake’s body.
Distraught with grief, Bill later returns to Thailand to help with the grim clearing-up operation. He leaves Maggie and the others behind. His wife is mute with resentment and despair.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book”
Typically of married couples, Bill and Maggie cope with their grief in very different ways. They grow apart, and eventually separate.
Maggie still loves Bill and hopes that they will eventually get back together – as do their surviving children.
But Bill meets another woman in his grief therapy class. Carrie is a young widow. She lost her husband to a sudden heart attack.
Drawn together by trauma, Bill and Carrie fall in love and soon she is unexpectedly pregnant.
When Maggie learns of this she is beside herself with anger and resentment. The only person who can comfort her is her younger sister, Olivia, who visits from her home in Australia. Desperately worried about Maggie, ‘Liv’ fatefully discovers Kate – a 63-year-old widow tired of living alone.
Despite Maggie’s initial objections, Kate moves in with her and her children and brings them much-needed peace. She nurtures and nourishes them – but has a sad secret of her own.
As the title suggests, this book is about motherhood – specifically, the intense love Maggie feels for her children.
Bill has clearly started a new life with Carrie and their unborn child. Although he and Maggie still have strong and tender feelings for each other, she must decide what to do with the rest of her life, without him.
Kate, too, must come to terms with her own secret past. But again, maternal love is at the core of her story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It may be mostly concerned with motherhood, but is has perceptive insights into wider family life. So it is very much a story for fathers, too.
Here are a selection of the reviews for A Mother and Her Child
“Tissues are essential. You’ll ricochet between delicately watering eyes at the romance of it all and howling sobs at the unbearable tenderness”
“It would be a hard heart indeed that remained unmoved…the tender feelings that Noble engenders in her readers are to be cherished”
“How does a family travel the most painful journey imaginable? In this poignant story of rebirth and abiding family love, Elizabeth Noble gently takes us down a path of friendship, understanding and compassion. Her beautifully drawn characters are as tender and big-hearted as they are unforgettable.”