This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Children are simply not part of Clare Donoghue’s life plan. Her busy career working in the Accident and Emergency Department takes up far too much time. As she approaches the age of 40 it seems that her friends' lives are becoming more swallowed up by the notion of parenthood. Everyone else is planning children, hoping for them, pregnant or already navigating the troubled course of parenthood. Feeling completely misunderstood and left behind, Clare starts a Facebook group for people without children. The aim is to provide a child-free zone where people not interested in parenting can discuss other areas of their lives without feeling like social outcasts who are missing out on something. When the No-Kids Club starts to attract a wider variety of people, Clare starts to question her own aversion to motherhood.
My first impression was that the novel would revolve around a woman who would see the positives in having children and change who she was accordingly. It has been done before and I won’t deny expecting a cliché. Luckily there is some depth to Clare once you get past her judgemental exterior. Also, the novel does explore more than the basic benefits of parenthood through the use of other characters. There’s Anna who has forsaken hope of children to please her selfish husband and the intriguing couple, Poppy and Alistair, who agree they want children but have been emotionally battered by repeated failed IVF. In comparison, Clare does seem somewhat one-dimensional for a lot of the action. The novel really started to become more fun to read when she stopped judging those around her for wanting children. Ironically, she complains a lot about this being done to her for not wanting to be a mother. When she starts to see that being a parent isn’t a black and white issue, she becomes far less selfish and more likable.
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More interesting to me than the storyline, where I found the clues as to what was going to happen far too obvious, are the underlying issues that have altered the changing roles within parenthood as time is passing. There is the conflict between having a ‘life’ and being a mother, the blurred boundaries between the roles of being husbands and wives, mums and dads, and the intense pressure on women to maintain so many duties in order to feel that they have done a good job.
I’m aware I have highlighted a lot of negatives here and, as a whole, the book is a quick, easy read, presenting a vaguely interesting navigation of modern day romance. Despite feeling let down in some areas, I would have liked to have read on, particularly with regards to Poppy and Alistair’s progress as a couple.