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The Dilemma
By Julia Roberts
Books On Tour
Review

My thanks go out to publisher Bookouture, for securing me a spot on this ‘Books On Tour’ journey.

As ever, additional thanks go out to NetGalley, for their excellent download and review service.

Image of the Blog Tour Banner for the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

THE DILEMMA

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia RobertsMy child means everything to me. But saving his life means destroying my best friend’s family…

I didn’t plan to fall pregnant, but when I found out, I was overjoyed. Even though I’d be going it alone, I swore I’d give my baby everything they needed.

But I didn’t know who the man I met on that sweltering summer night, the father of my child, really was.

I decided to keep his secret to protect the innocent… but then my beautiful baby was born with a rare illness, desperately needing a transplant.

Now, as I gaze into my son’s wide and trusting eyes, I know the choice I have to make: for the sake of my precious little boy, I have to destroy my friend’s happiness.

But when the truth comes out, what if saving my baby means losing him forever?

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

JULIA ROBERTS

Alternative image of author Julia Roberts

Julia was born in West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, and began her career as a professional singer/dancer, after surviving childhood Polio, against all the odds.

This enabled her to travel the world in her late teens storing up experiences she has since included in her writing.

Following roles as a hostess on The Price is Right and a member of the Beadle’s About ‘hit squad’ in the 1980s, Julia became a TV Presenter and filmed features for Sky Sports before launching the QVC shopping channel in 1993 where she still presents today.

Having always wanted to write, she penned her first book, a memoir sold on QVC, in 2013 and has since written several full length novels, novellas and short stories.

The Dilemma has quite a few ‘real life’ moments in it, particularly George’s illness, which is based around something that happened to my friend David’s son at birth. Obviously, I checked with David that he was happy for me to incorporate elements of his son Jude’s story in The Dilemma. Not only was he completely okay with it, as he believes it can raise awareness that giving birth is not always straightforward, he was able to give me some of the technical information about Meconium Aspiration Syndrome which I used alongside research”

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

FIRST LINES

WEDNESDAY 31 JANUARY 2018

“The deafening sound of music recedes as the door to the ladies’ loo swings closed behind me, but I can still feel the heavy bass vibrating through my body, beating in time with the miniature drummer in my head. A few years ago, I could have put it down to a dozen or more gin and tonics and the start of the inevitable hangover, but I rarely drink these days”

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

MEMORABLE LINES

“I know how lucky I am to have a relationship that is so close to perfect. Am I asking too much for it to be made complete”

.

“I can see how my desperation to be a mother might have worn him down to such an extent that it’s starting to erode the love he feels for me”

.

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Nothing will be gained by either of us being mad at a total stranger”

.

“Trust is the single most important thing in a relationship, be it a marriage or friendship, and I’ve already betrayed that. I don’t expect she will ever forgive me, but you two might still be able to work things out”

.

“Unintentionally, I’ve pulled the pin and lobbed a grenade into an already explosive situation”

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

REVIEW

“How far would you go to save your child’s life?”

The quote in Julia’s profile section above, is an extract from ‘A Letter From Julia’, which features at the end of the book and which I recommend you read, although probably not until you have closed the final page on the story, as it does contain some spoilers, as well as a couple of interesting and thought-provoking questions for any group discussions.

It is all too easy to give away spoilers, so just a short take on the storyline from me this time…

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

Now in her thirties, Charlotte is desperate for a baby to cement her ten-year relationship with partner Zack, who is slightly older than her and has lost contact with his own sons, as their mother has taken them back to her Australian home. Charlotte believes that it is she who is unable to conceive, although tests do not back this up and Zack refuses to get tested, arguing that he has already fathered children. When Charlotte realises that Zack has knowingly lied to her for all this time, she is devastated and believes that their entire relationship has been based upon dishonesty, which she simply cannot forgive, even if she could have possibly lived with never becoming a mother.

Not telling Zack where she is going, Charlotte rents herself a small place not too far away and gets herself a job with a local florist. One of her two best friends from their modelling days, Annabel, who lives with her own partner Finn and not believing herself to be maternal, tries to jolly Charlotte out of her depression by taking her on an all-expenses paid holiday to Mauritius. Charlotte catches the eye of one of the waiters, so when Annabel is taken ill on their last night and Charlotte needs to dine alone, Annabel assumes it is he who keeps Charlotte out until the early hours of the morning.

When Charlotte’s wildest dreams are answered, and she finds herself pregnant, the future, although rather scary as a single parent, looks rosy. Annabel and the third person in this once close-knit group of friends, Tiffany, are determined to work together to keep Charlotte safe and not feeling isolated, and as Tiffany is in a stable marriage and already has two teenage children of her own, it is only natural that her two friends turn to her for advice and help. It appears however, that the friends really don’t know each other as well as they had thought, as they have all been keeping secrets which Charlotte’s news is about to burst wide open, bringing them firmly into the spotlight and demanding explanations.

It is when Charlotte’s baby is born that it becomes even more urgent for wrongs to be righted, as lives do literally depend on the outcomes. For Tiffany and her family, this is a particularly testing time and the strength of their relationships are going to be strained to breaking point and maybe beyond. The maturity they show is both an example and a wake-up call for both Charlotte and Zack, and Annabel and Flynn, who grasp the second opportunities they have been given with both hands. For everyone, the one enduring lesson they all learn from this traumatic experience, which might have ended so very differently, is that trust is the single most important thing in any relationship, whether between family or friends. For this small group, their common shared experiences are the bonds which will tie them together far into the future.

Cover image of the book 'The Dilemma' by author Julia Roberts

Whilst on the whole, yes, this was quite a predictable and formulaic storyline and I thought I knew exactly how everything was all meant to end, there were one or two twists which added extra unique and intriguing layers that didn’t fully work themselves out until the end of the story, keeping me avidly turning the pages and engaged throughout, wondering whether each would be the straw which would break increasingly fragile bonds, or which would ultimately bind them more tightly together.

Author Julia Roberts has a fluent, compelling and evocative style of writing, which whilst almost seamless and relaxed, manages to create a truly beguiling and immersive experience, which is rich in atmosphere and beautifully textured. With seemingly consummate ease she has written a well-crafted storyline that is broken down into short, digestible chapters, which keeps things well-paced and fluid. Narrated in a single timeline and mostly in Charlotte’s voice, with a few chapters told from Tiffany’s perspective and in her own voice, some cleverly crafted scenes which make up this fast-changing storyline, are intense, sometimes filled with humour, often full of regret and remorse, but always told with heart and compassion, by an author who held me captive in the palm of her hand all the time I was reading. The ending to this perceptive and poignant story, sowed the seeds of change and new beginnings for this close-knit circle of friends and their families, which will see them changed forever, moving forward with their lives together, forging new beginnings and making fresh starts, supporting one another through the good times and the bad.

Julia explores the trauma of grief and loss and the long-term effects it can have on mental health. Accepting your own failings without the need to punish yourself for them, whilst also accepting the failures of others without feeling the need to pass judgement or admonishment. Chasing a dream if it is at all attainable and you don’t damage anyone else in the process and maybe being generous enough to help someone else to fulfil their own aspirations along the way, if you are able to. Realising the damage telling lies and keeping secrets from one another can do, when well-meaning motives go awry.  Learning how good life in a relationship can be if both people are singing from the same song sheet and the giving isn’t all one sided. Recognising the long-term misunderstandings and indeed damage, which can be done in crisis, when children are not treated with the honesty and respect they deserve as small adults. But not forgetting most importantly of all, after the love of family, are the lasting and enduring friendships we make along our way through life.

The physical footprint this story occupies, is quite finely focussed, so whilst the narrative about specific locations is very descriptive with real placenames which can be tracked, for any confirmed ‘armchair travellers’, this book might be a little light on location. It is undoubtedly all about the storyline and the cast of characters who occupy its space, the interactions between them as individuals, their personalities and how honesty and trust can truly bring people closer together and entirely change perspectives on life.

The three main protagonists Charlotte, Annabel and Tiffany, together with their respective partners Zack, Finn and JJ, represent a multi-faceted and complex jigsaw of vulnerable human emotions, which are laid bare when the fragility of the lines between life and death, defeat and survival, love and hate, trust and duplicity, are drawn. However, a raw addictive passion and the will to survive as couples, families and friends, overcomes all the odds stacked against them, making them stronger, determined to be true to themselves and each other, and more united as time goes on. They brought out both the best and the worse in each other, the energy and synergy between them being genuine, believable, engaging and authentic to the roles created for them by the author. There is also a quite extensive cast of engaging and well-developed supporting characters, who are reliable, authentic, easy to connect with and relate to, despite their complex individual idiosyncrasies and vulnerabilities, sharing some great dynamics between them.

I read for a whole range of reasons, but amongst them are enjoyment, entertainment, escapism and emotion. This story soundly ticked all those boxes and more besides, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thanks for a lovely journey, Julia!

Alternative image of author Julia Roberts

A complimentary kindle download of this book for review, was made available by the publisher and supplied by NetGalley.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion, and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However, some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well-deserved 4 out of 5 stars!

Thank you for taking the time to read my review, I appreciate your support.

 

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Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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4 comments
  • This is the kind of story that would annoying me immensely. Children shouldn’t be a sort of a “glue” to sort out issues in a couple, which usually means the child suffers while the adults are blaming each other for a failed relationship that they are trapped in because of the child.

    • I agree with you exactly, but this storyline gets much more complicated than that, I promise you. Yet still it is ultimately the children who end up teaching their parents a lesson or two!

      I don’t think I would be giving too much away to say that it does have the required happy ending though!

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend 🙂

  • Hmm! On the face of it not a book I’d have thought I’d like {‘using’ children in this way really doesn’t sit well} but then it sounds as if there is much more to this story than I’d have thought. Great review Yvonne, its good to have you back. Have a good week-end.

    • Yes! There are definitely many strands to this storyline, and I was perhaps a little surprised that everything was tied up quite so neatly in the end. However, there were so many lies and secrets going on, that there was no one person to blame for events, therefore it ended up where everyone basically decided to let bygones be bygones (putting it in a nutshell)!

      Thanks for taking time to stop by and for your kind comments. You have a good weekend too; it sounds as though the temperatures are going to begin dropping from next week! 🙂

Written by Yvonne
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