Most helpful positive review
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A Surprisingly Entertaining and Satisfying Read
on 17 February 2013
Cecilia Banks, recently retired from her profession as a psychotherapist due to ill health, receives a rather large surprise when her forty-year-old son, Ian, a foreign correspondent, telephones her to inform her that she is a grandmother. Cecilia is shocked; she hadn't even known Ian's girlfriend was pregnant and she is even more shocked when Ian tells her that the baby is the result of a fling he had with a rather beautiful, but unstable woman, who has now disappeared and left his son, Cephas, with him. As Ian expected, Cecilia rises to the occasion and, once she lays eyes on Cephas, she bonds with him immediately and agrees to take him into her home and into her life; but Cecilia's life is rather complicated at the moment. For one thing, Cecilia is recovering from cancer; and then there is her husband and Ian's stepfather, Tim, who seems to be withdrawing from her as he fills his life with his work and his tennis. Added to this, there is her friend Helen, a writer, who shares Cecilia's illness, but isn't coping quite as well as Cecilia appears to be doing; and what's more, Helen has a secret from her past which she reveals to Cecilia, which gives Cecilia even more to think about. And then Ian receives a very unpleasant shock, which could have far reaching consequences - not just for him, but for Cecilia and Cephas, also.
This is a warm, absorbing, intelligent and entertaining novel which looks at morality and at those things that are really important in life: love, loyalty, family, friendship and, importantly, our health. What is really surprising is the way the author confronts a serious and life-threatening illness in such a straightforward and, in some places, humorous fashion and without becoming overly sentimental. I do have to say that there were some sections in the story which I, being very squeamish, found a little too graphic, but because the rest of the story is so warm and cheering, it enabled me to read through the parts that I found a little difficult. Bernadine Bishop has created some interesting and well-realised characters for her novel - even the baby, Cephas is particularly well-drawn, right down to his relationship with Cecilia's wonderful cat, Thor. I could go on, but I don't wish to spoil this story for prospective readers; so if you are looking for a satisfying family drama and one that is remindful of the important things in life, then this novel might well fit the bill for you.