The opening line of Rosie Thomas's 15th book, If My Father Loved Me
, is an intriguing one: "My father was a perfumer and a con artist". The daughter of this "grand master of deception" is Sadie, a divorced bookbinder, with two children who has carved out a calm life for herself. She loves her job and her friends and her charming daughter Lola is on the way to college. Her son, Jack, is more problematic--he's not a typical drink-and-drugs adolescent, instead he's a loner who likes bird watching and animals, but who doesn't seem overly fond of his mother.
Tricky parental situations are abound in this novel. Firstly there's Sadie's uneasy relationship with her father Ted--when Sadie's mother died "he was left with a beady-eyed and unpliant child" and Sadie was left with a father who was an expert in "bottled dreams", flirting and double-dealing, but not so hot on child care. Elsewhere friends have uneasy truces with their lover's children while divorced couples try to keep their parental roles on course.
Rosie Thomas handles all this domestic drama with compassion and kindness. The characterisation is adept and the emotional dilemmas real and involving. Add in the lovely details abut the creation of scent--descriptions of the fragrance of Jasmine in Grasse, the appeal of Ted's Mayfair shop Scentsation "a faint breath of fresh flowers and warm aromatics which conjured up worlds of glamour and privilege," and you have a perceptive and engaging novel. --Eithne Farry
--This text refers to the
"Another absorbing story from Rosie Thomas, confronting all the complexities of love, passion, pain and the rebuilding of fractured lives" (Daily Mirror
"This is territory at which Rosie Thomas excels and to which she brings compassion and emotional intelligence" (Elizabeth Buchan Sunday Times
"A tale enriched by Thomas' compassion and wry sense of humour" (Woman & Home
"A beautifully written, affecting tale from the author of A Woman of Our Times
" (Choice Magazine
"An extremely touching and well-written study fo human emotions and family bonds" (The Sunderland Echo