on 28 June 2012
I bought this book last Saturday at a book signing in my local library - well, I live in Dartmouth so I had to, didn't I?? I had the pleasure of meeting Adele, and as well as being a great author I can confirm that she is lovely! So friendly, natural and approachable. Anyway, I read 'Whatever it Takes' in four days and was riveted. I really enjoyed it - and having it set in Dartmouth was an added bonus. Poor, kind-hearted Eloise - I really felt for her having a 'friend' like Sara. The ending was such a surprise - must confess I didn't see that one coming..! I really feel like I know all the Hamiltons quite well by now, and I rather miss them... As always, whenever I finish a good book I feel like I have lost a friend, so I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Adele's books which I haven't yet read. Bring it on...
Eloise and her family decide to make a big move from London, the city that Eloise lives and breathes every single day, to Dartmouth, where her husband grew up and where he desperately wants to be. She's nervous about the move, but knows it is the right thing for her family. It does mean leaving behind her best friend Sara who is going through some tough times personally, but Eloise has to do what is right for her. When the Hamilton's arrive in Dartmouth, Eloise and Mark are shocked to find out that his mother isn't as well as they had thought, and suddenly their lives are turned upside-down. Eloise begins to buckle under the responsibility of looking after everyone, but will she be able to help her family, Sara and Margaret to keep things going - whatever it takes?
I have to say I really did enjoy this book. I enjoyed how it started in London, showing Eloise at her most comfortable and happiest, and then moving throughout her first year in Dartmouth and showing how she starts to settle in and get used to a much quieter pace of life. I loved the way Parks wrote about Dartmouth, it sounds absolutely idyllic and beautiful, and I can see why even a city-lover like Eloise grows to love the place. Parks writes the beautiful views, lovely town and the people with such realism and warmth, it's easy to imagine it in your mind as you are reading. The characters too are all written fantastically, there aren't too many of them in the book but this allows the reader to get to know them well enough and really feel sorry for each of their individual plights. The book is divided into months as well, so we can easily follow the journey of these characters and see their growth and/or decline which makes it works so well.
Eloise is a bit of a people-pleaser shall we say, always eager to help out and do the best for people, even if it isn't necessarily in her best interests to do so. I found her a tad annoying at times, that she couldn't stand up to her old friend Sara in particular, especially when it was called for, but other than that, I really liked her and thought she is the perfect leading lady for the book. Her friend Sara on the hand, is a character I think we're meant to sympathise with because of her troubles, but I just couldn't stand her and the more the book went on, the more I really disliked her - she's just a horrible person! Eloise's husband Mark is a well written male character dealing with some shock revelations, and I think Parks writes his turmoil so well. Margaret, Mark's mother is a lovely old lady battling a horrible illness, and at times its hard to read her decline, but Parks does it so well.
Parks covers some really serious issues in the book, from Alzheimer's, to infidelity and infertility, and I found the issues were all woven so well into the plot, and were hard-hitting to read about. Parks has clearly done her research around them, and writes them in such a way you understand entirely what is going on even if you don't have much knowledge of the subject itself. The story handles these topics perfectly, and although it felt like the whole book was a bit depressing at times (hence knocking one star off the rating), it was a powerful book that really does encourage you to think about your own life and to be grateful for what you have. While I guessed some of the plot lines, there were others, particularly the ending, which I didn't see coming at all, and with hindsight there were clues there, but I didn't expect what happened to occur at all, and full marks to Parks for keeping that from us! A really beautifully written novel, and one I would recommend.
on 15 July 2012
I was actually lucky enough to meet Adele when she came to Northwich LitFest at the start of her tour for this book, so I was thrilled to be able to buy my copy on the very day of its release, which makes it even more special to me. I love books which deal with gritty situations in everyday life, and Whatever It Takes does exactly that, although I have to admit, I felt a tiny bit apprehensive when it came to reading about Margaret having Alzheimer's, having personally had the experience of caring for someone with the disease. However, I need not have been concerned, Adele wrote about the subject with great sensitivity and understanding and Margaret quickly became one of my favourite characters. I was especially glued to the section where she was with Poppy - it was about 2am, long past my bedtime, and I could not put the book down!
Adele really knows how to get inside her characters and paint a picture of them in the mind's eye of the reader. Sara's desperation to have a baby, Mark's unexpected problems to be faced, Margaret's Alzheimer's...and Eloise, striving so hard in the past to create perfection in all things, now having to work doubly hard simply to hold everything together. The characters really do arouse strong feelings in the reader, particularly Sara, for whom I started off feeling great sympathy...although, I have to say, it didn't last to the end of the book!
I really love the descriptions too - little phrases that catch my eye and make me want to go back and read them again. For instance, at the farewell party Sara looks enviously at Eloise as she 'darted around like a small fairy sprinkling magic dust on everyone she met', and 'people clustered around Eloise as though she carried an invisible, enchanted umbrella that might protect them from the big bad world.'
Okay, running out of space...fantastic book from a fantastic lady...buy it now!!!!!
on 20 February 2013
I've read several Adele Parks novels and the writing on Amazon about this one made it sound a good read, the story of Eloise who moves to love in the country nearer to the in-laws and to live a quieter life. However Eloise suddenly has to contend with her best friends infertility and a mother-in-law struggling with dementia.
It is a slow moving read this one, I found many of the characters quite clear to see through from the outset. Sara, Eloise's best friend struggling with fertility issues is a horrible character and the whole build up storyline in the book is incredibly transparent and clear very early on. I didn't find that 'gosh I didn't see that coming' moment. Instead I found myself flicking past whole paragraphs ad finding I wasn't missing much. It wasn't that gripping.
It was a pleasant enough read but lacked sparkle.
on 1 July 2012
I have read all of Adele Parks books, and this one didnt disappoint. Her writing of the characters is skilful, and I really empathised with the main character, Eloise, a thoroughly nice girl, worrying too much about what other people think, and doing the ' right' thing.
The subject of Alzheimers is sensitively handled, without being a token inclusion, and the ever so touchy subject of infertility is approached from an interesting angle.
Eloise's best friend, Sara is desperate for a baby, and time is running out. I am not sure how the reader is supposed to feel about Sara, you would think that her desperation would make you feel sorry for her, but her complete obsession and self centredness over the whole issue made me think that she is, frankly, a selfish bitch.
An interesting take on how all consuming the longing for a baby can be, which made me cringe at times, and I have to wonder if Adele has personal experience of this on some level.
You wont be disappointed if you like Parks' previous offerings
on 9 July 2012
This is one of those cases when 5 stars is not enough. This book is worth at least 10 stars out of 5 and it's Adele's best so far!!! It got me hooked. Glad I bought it, would definitely recommend it, fantastic story, fantastic read!