WOMEN OF A DANGEROUS AGE
Lou has realised that she is married to a man who no longer loves her.
Now that their children are grown, is it too late for her to make a fresh start and set up the business she has always wanted?
Ali is a serial mistress. But when her latest lover suggests that they move in together, she realises she wants more. But can she trust him to make that permanent commitment?
When Lou and Ali become friends on a life-changing holiday in India they begin to learn just how much they have in common.
But when a revelation shakes the growing bond between them, their courage and friendship is tested to the limit.
Fanny Blake was brought up in Nottinghamshire, then went to Edinburgh university to study French and Spanish. She left there certain that she wanted to be a publisher’s editor. She hadn’t a clue what editors did. She loved reading: that was enough.
After a short stint in Glasgow, working in the University bookshop (the closest she could get to the world of books), Fanny left Scotland and went to London in search of a job. After answering an advertisement from Corgi Books and being appointed as an editorial assistant, she never looked back and spent many happy years, acquiring, editing and publishing fiction and general non-fiction for a variety of publishers and publications.
Eventually, she crossed to the other side of the fence. Instead of reading for her living, she began to write. After cutting her teeth with various interiors magazines, she was asked to collaborate on books that tied in with TV programmes such as Grand Designs, House Doctor and Place in the Sun. At about the same time, Fanny was asked to be books editor of Woman & Home magazine, a job that to this day keeps her in touch with the world of books and publishing. Since then she has ghosted a number of celebrity autobiographies before turning her hand to fiction, where her heart has always lain.
Over the years, she has also enjoyed judging a number of literary awards, including the Betty Trask Award, the Desmond Elliott Award, the Romantic novelists’ Association Award, the Costa First Novel Award and the Costa Short Story Award.
Cath up with all the latest news at Fanny’s website
Connect with Fanny on Facebook
Follow Fanny on Twitter
“If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married”
“Her parents must have been in their late forties then, a little older than she was now: a dangerous age, a time when you look at what you have and what you want. Either you act and effect a change or you settle for what you know”
“When two women of a ‘dangerous age’ meet – sparks are sure to fly!”
I have to say, that I thought I had worked out the storyline for this book, almost before I had turned the first page … and at a very basic level, I had. What I was totally unprepared for, were the number of twists and turns and small, yet lethally important sub-plots, which kept landing in the mix at fairly regular intervals, throwing me off balance each time.
I began to wonder just whether this plethora of random events, were designed to shock me and make me sit up and take notice, or whether they were a true representation of the modern middle-aged woman and a reflection of morality in our society, as the author perceives it. When I then took a look around at my own circle of friends and acquaintances, I realised just how prevelant some of the issues raised in the book, have become, although I do have to add here, that whilst many experiences are well able to compete with those of Lou’s character in the story, I don’t actually know many ‘serial mistresses’, who could match the exploits of Ali.
Equally story and character driven, the plot was given the additional bonus of providing the women with a neutral meeting place far away from home, in India, which worked really well. References to the indigenous sights and sounds which the two women experienced were minimal, yet pivotal in adding an extra dimension to their characters. Serving both to highlight the obvious differences between them in confidence, appearance and overall demeanour, whilst at the same time preparing the way for them to discover a common ground, in their mutual love of vintage clothing, materials and hand crafted jewellery.
Both women are ‘damaged goods’ and have been living for many years with unresolved issues which stretch way back in time. Both have now reached the turning point in their lives, where family secrets, which have been kept hidden, are being forced out into the open by their actions and resolve to change their lives. Where the pain and anguish of confrontation is ultimately going to prove to be the catalyst which will lead to the healing process for them both.
Many of Lou’s problems stem from her increasingly fragile relationship with her errant husband and increasingly independent children, who no longer need to rely on her, either physically or emotionally. Her new found resolve to live and survive independently of her family, is still in its fledgling stages, as she finally opens her eyes to what she has always known, that she is being used as a doormat by her husband, with his philandering, scheming and lying ways.
Ali has emotional problems of a different kind, which go way back to a childhood where a mother’s love, comfort and understanding, had been denied her; although until now, no-one has ever had the courage to tell her exactly why. The resultant family rift and the strong resolve with which she has shielded herself over the years, has seen her unable to commit to a genuine relationship, preferring to take what is not hers to have, knowing that she can walk away from a situation at a moments notice. Ali’s perception of reaching her ‘dangerous age’, is fundamentally different to Lou’s, in that, rather than crave independence, she now hankers after the complete opposite, a secure and loving relationship with one single man…. or is it?
Lou and Ali, seem the unlikeliest of bedfellows, however, the sudden realisation that they have substantially more in common than they think, rather than seeing them at each others throats, has the opposite affect of uniting them in the common cause of making sure that after confronting the miscreant, they are there for each other, to pick up the pieces and be mutually supportive as each attempts to carve out a new place for themselves in society.
I almost made the mistake of assuming that Lou was the weaker of the two women, as she had led the more sheltered life, built up around a small nucleus of family and friends. I came to the conclusion however, that the gregarious, flirtatious and freedom loving Ali, was in fact the more insecure of the two. When the chips were down, Lou is the truly courageous one who is ready to make the clean break from her old life and follow her dreams independently and fully committed, whereas Ali is still searching for a compromise in the situation, which will give her the ‘get out of jail free’ card, if she ever needs it and still leaves her short of the full commitment to change.
With its easy flowing and at times witty dialogue, there are some genuine laugh out loud moments in this story and many points where a wry humour in the situation can be detected. These moments are however, tempered with a certain amount of regret and sadness, for the passing of a chapter in the lives of Lou and Ali and everyone connected with them.
The edges are definitely blurred, as to where and when this perceptive and interesting work of fiction, becomes a reality check and an almost frightening article of social comment. It is definitely a poignant and empowering story, highlighting not only the importance and unconditional support of family and friends, but the concept that every individual should be afforded the opportunity to follow their dreams, without fear of the consequences, although never at the expense of innocent others, whose feelings and emotions should be respected at all times… Definitely a thought provoking read.
This contemporary fiction novel, was gifted as a request for me to read and leave my comments about, by Amy, over at publisher HarperCollins, and as such was free of charge.
This will in no way influence any comments I may express about the book, in any blog article I may post. Any thoughts or comments will be my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article.
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!