on 7 June 2011
Lisa Jewell is back on form!
I've loved Lisa's books from the start. Had them pre-ordered every time it was available to do so. But I was disappointed with After the Party and I wasn't sure how I was going to find reading The Making of Us because I'm of the firm belief that sperm donors should be able to keep their anonymity. Then I started seeing amazing reviews for it, so my expectations were high, which isn't always a good thing for me. However, I wasn't disappointed with this one! It was written in the very same style that made Lisa my favourite author ever. Addictive, intriguing and everything set at a steady pace with no lull.
So, where to start without giving too much away? You have three main characters, Lydia, Robyn and Dean, all the result of the same sperm donor years ago. All have had very different upbringings and are in very different places in their lives. Lydia is wealthy and successful, but is missing something in her life that she can't quite understand. Robyn, having always known about her being a sperm donor baby due to health issues in the family, is intelligent and training to be a doctor, but is losing her drive and reasoning for it all. Then there's Dean who has had a poor upbringing and has gotten his girlfriend pregnant.
I don't know exactly how it works for sperm donors and the children getting in touch with each other, but Lisa made this story believable and warm. Nothing felt forced or cheesy. I was there with all three characters as they discovered who they really were and what they needed to do with their lives. They could almost be someone you know they were so fleshed out with their quirks, habits and thoughts.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a feel-good story. This has definitely moved into the slot of being my favourite Lisa Jewell book. I really haven't done enough justice for this book here. So trust me, go read this book. You need to experience it all for yourself to understand my love of Lisa's fantastic storytelling skills.
on 23 January 2013
I loved all of Lisa Jewell's books I read, by this is by far my favourite so far. It has been likened to David Nicholls' "One Day", a novel I also enjoyed, but for me this book is better. While Nicholls' was a clever concept and a nicely told love story, in Jewell's book there is a deeper message to be found. Yes, there is a romance, which is never saccharine sweet - a point I always enjoyed in Lisa's style - but at the core of the book is the theme of "belonging". Lydia, Robyn and Dean are tied by an invisible link that runs in their blood, a link that will bring them together in extraordinary circumstances. All three are seeking their roots, for different reasons. What they will find is that "belonging" is more than sharing genes, that the connections that we make in life - family, friendship, love - define us as much as our DNA, if not more.
The book is beautifully written. I always liked Lisa Jewell's style, but here she has moved up a gear. Once again she is able to spin different narrative threads and bring them all together to form a rich tapestry of characters, events and emotions. The characters are all well depicted and it's easy to empathize with their feelings and the situations they find themselves in.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves well crafted stories with a positive message about life and its many surprises. It's a novel I will read again and again!
The Making Of Us is a story of many people, unconnected and completely different to begin until it's revealed each has one thing in common. They share the same donor father. All are at complicated stages of their lives, Lydia, 29, has gone from rags to riches but is desperately lonely and struggling with her past, Dean, 21, has just become a father, but lost the baby's mother in tragic circumstances and is struggling to bond with his daughter, Robyn, the youngest at 18 has moved to London to study medicine, a path she was so sure of until she was on it. In alternating chapters we hear from each of them, as well as Maggie, whose close friend Daniel is terminally ill and has asked her for help to fulfil his dying wish.
Wow, this book is an emotional roller coaster right from the start. The plot is so brutally human and complex yet Lisa Jewell absolutely pulls it off. Once again her skill at creating completely believable, relatable and flawed characters is perfect. I love alternating viewpoints when done well, and in The Making Of Us all four narratives both stand out individually and intertwine to create a heart wrenching and uplifting tale of identity and family. Each chapter is titled with the name of the character we are hearing from, although I do think they have strong enough voices to let the reader differentiate anyway.
I loved all the characters in this book, though in particular Lydia who is so far away from myself in many ways yet surprisingly familiar too. I also really liked Dean, the young brother she discovers through a donor sibling registry, and the developing relationship between the two of them is gorgeous, awkward but touchingly beautiful all at once. What I always love about Jewell's characters is how layered they are, and how she isn't afraid to show their weak and at times pathetic sides-the ones we all have but hide from the world, making them all the more stronger for it. You get the feeling while reading that these people could be ones you pass every day.
The Making Of Us is at times very sad and touching, but also incredibly hopeful and positive for the future. By the end of the book you'll feel you've experienced these peoples journey, you'll be behind them all the way and will leave wishing them the best in their future. This is a novel not about a donor father and his dying wish, but one of identity, knowing yourself, finding a sense of belonging and the ties that bind people to each other. It's compelling from start to finish and I was completely absorbed throughout. I've never been disappointed by Lisa Jewell's work, and I certainly wasn't by The Making Of Us. With each new book I think `this is the best yet' and that's how I felt after turning the last page. This is a book I highly recommend.
on 16 May 2011
I am a huge Lisa Jewell fan and have loved all of her books so you can imagine how excited I was to receive a review copy of her latest one. I was a little worried when it arrived though as it had a quote on the back from The Bookseller saying that Lisa Jewell had moved into David Nicholl's territory. Don't get me wrong, I loved One Day by David Nicholls but I feel that Lisa Jewell has a very particular writing style and I was worried that this would have disappeared. I shouldn't have got so stressed though as this book is fabulous and the writer's poignant and witty style was better than ever.
The idea behind the book is just brilliant and Lisa Jewell showed how much research she had done by it all being completely believable and realistic.
I fell in love with all of the characters, Daniel, Lydia, Dean and Robyn. It was almost like getting four books for the price of one as they all have their own stories and backgrounds and I loved getting to know them all.
Lydia is extremely successful and still very young. She is adapting to the new wealth and lifestyle that her success has given her but she still has many questions from the past. She receives an envelope from an anonymous sender and learns that her father was a sperm donor rather than the man who had brought her up. Rather than feeling anger or sadness, it seems that Lydia is almost relieved as it makes certain parts of her past make sense, almost like a weight has been lifted.
Dean is younger than Lydia and has known the true identity of his father for three years. His life is all over the place and he is pushing away everybody that cares for him. A tiny part of him wonders what his siblings are like, are they in as much of a mess as him or would they hold some answers to him sorting his life out?
Robyn is the youngest at 18 and has always know about her father. She is training to be a doctor, the same as her father. On her eighteenth, Robyn's loving parents give her all the information she needs to make contact with her siblings and her real father. At first she is reluctant but then she realises the importance of meeting these people; by knowing them then maybe she will understand a little more about herself.
Daniel is the man who ties these children together, a man they have never met and a man who is running out of time. After revealing his life-long secret to his new friend Maggie, she sets out to find his children and bring them to him before it is too late.
The Making Of Us is a beautiful, poignant book. As I said, I fell in love with each character and only wanted the best for them all. Lisa Jewell has the incredible knack of telling it like it is, she does not give you a happy ending just for the sake of it. The way in which she brought the characters together was brilliant and very realistic. I was really moved by the individual stories of the characters and the ways in which they fitted together as though they had always felt that something was missing.
I urge you to read The Making Of Us and any of Lisa Jewell's other books. She is a fantastic author whose writing I never tire of.
on 1 June 2011
I have been reading and recommending Lisa Jewell's books since 1999, and although my main reading choices are History and Science Fiction I genuinely enjoy a good story regardless of the genre. Lisa Jewell's books have never failed to entertain and to keep me totally gripped and emotionally involved. Lisa's latest book - The Making of Us is no exception.
This is a really good read, of various families and characters that come together because of one common factor - their unknown donor father. Each character has his or her issues, difficulties and lives and each back story/ section could be a good book in its self however their combination is brilliant and believable.
I have read a lot over the years and some story plot lines are predictable in other writers, and I thought I had detected some twists and was "cleverly" predicting various endings/outcomes however I got them all wrong. I couldn't put this down and quickly read it over the weekend, I needed to know how things turned out.
I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good read, and please spread the word. I really feel that Lisa Jewell's work really deserves a much wider audience. I would describe her as one of the best modern novelists of our time, a great story teller who has impressed again and again a reader who normally sticks with Bernard Cornwell, Stephen King and the like!
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book and it'll certainly make me want to pick up more of Jewell's books in future. The idea of sperm donation is opened at the beginning when we join the character of Maggie whose husband can't give her a baby. She decides to go behind his back and get pregnant via a sperm donor, which does start the book with some questionable morals, I have to admit, but it isn't a secret right from the beginning. After that, we jump to the present day and meet up with Lydia, Dean and Robyn, all separately of course. We find out that Lydia is wealthy but very unhappy, Dean is from a rough upbringing and struggling with the reality of his new life and Robyn is a young student trying to find her feet. They're all very different but quite similar and I like the way Jewell made these characters people in their own right as well as the joining of them together via the story.
I don't really a know a lot about sperm donation, and while the book doesn't really go into a lot of detail about it, it is more about the impact it has on the people affected by it. Yes, there is a lot in this book which is coincidental i.e. the characters all living pretty closely, all happy about being fathered by a sperm donor, all knowing about it and all contacting the website about meeting up with other siblings in a short space of time, something which probably wouldn't happen in real life, but that's fiction for you, it allows for these things to happen in a nice way. The way it is dealt with in the book with the children and parents is good, its quite matter of fact and open, again, perhaps not how it would be in real life but it works well for the story.
It is an emotional book, and that continues right the way through. The childhood of Lydia is an emotional story and in conveyed throughout the book as such, and it certainly makes you warm to her because of what you know she has been through. I really liked Lydia, she has a good heart behind her stony exterior and the way she bonds with others in the book is quiet touching. Dean is someone I really loved, he's had a hard time of it and clearly thinks badly of himself, but you can see he is a lovely person and that something is going to bring him out of himself. Robyn is also a nice character, but I found that I didn't care about her quite as much as the other two characters, she had everything that the others didn't have and therefore there was less to sympathise.
There was a little bit in the book that made me slightly uncomfortable, something relating to Robyn and her relationship with her boyfriend that I felt was a bit odd and felt wrong which is why I've knocked a star off, I felt uncomfortable reading this part and while luckily for me, it was a relatively small part of the book, it just didn't sit right with me. Overall, I really enjoyed the reading of this book, aside from the bit I mentioned, and it certainly was an emotional and touching read. I liked the way the chapters alternated with who they followed but it was written in the third person, it just worked really well and made a pleasant reading experience. The characters were great, the story was touching and lovely and it was a well written and enjoyable novel. Highly recommended!
Wow, what can I say? This was an absolutely brilliant book and not what I expected at all. This is a totally original story, with wonderful characters and as usual first class writing. Lisa Jewell is showing the world what she is made of that's for sure!
When I received the book I was looking forward to reading it and the cover with it's bright turquoise colours looked as usual very appealing. Lydia, Robyn and Dean are the glue that holds this story together along with their anonymous sperm donor father Daniel.
We are introduced to each of the characters in turn and learn their current situation as well as a little of each of their pasts. The story was unhurried but not slow, it gives the reader time to get a real feel for each of these people and how their lives have been affected by being the result of a sperm donor as a father.
The character Lydia was the first we meet and as we see her wealth and personal success we also see the downside to her life and the way in which she deals with the problems she faces. Lydia seems to be the catalyst for the others joining in the story and slowly we meet young Robyn who seems to have it all but knows there is something missing. Lastly we meet Dean whose life seems to be one big train wreck, and although he isn't making smart choices I loved his character.
By the time you are over halfway through the book you are rooting for all of them involved as you feel like you are taking the journey that links their pasts with them. I read this book in a day and a half and though it was absolutely brilliant.
It isn't your typical `chick lit' story but Lisa Jewell's brilliant writing style shines through as ever and she has an edge of humour even amongst the sadness. This certainly wasn't what I expected but I have to say it equated to so much more in my eyes. Lisa Jewell has produced a very touching story with loveable characters and has introduced an original storyline to boot.
Even though this may not seem like her sort of book, trust me it's even better and well worth picking up to read, highly recommended!!!
What do Lydia, a 30-year-old selfmade millionaire who designed an odourless brand of paint, Dean, an out-of-work truck driver who's just been bereaved, and Robyn, a pretty first-year medical student, have in common? The simple answer is that their mothers all used the same sperm donor to have them (no spoiler, we pick this up pretty soon). And when each of them, feeling a sense of 'something missing', joins a register uniting the children of particular donors, the results will be life-changing - particularly as their father, who they've never met, wants to meet them as well. Will they like each other? Will they, due to their genetic heritage, feel kinship? Or will the meeting be disastrous.
This could have been a fantastic story, particularly as it - unusually - was told from the point of view of the children of donors. Unfortunately - as Blest Miss T notes in her review - the three children in question are so vapid and unpleasant that it's hard to feel anything about them other than irritation. Lydia is narrow-minded, bland and selfish, forever going on about her riches, or how she fancies her personal trainer, the even more boring Bendix. Jewell does make some attempt to explore how her dysfunctional childhood has affected her, and gives quite a moving sense of how she can bond better with animals than people, but otherwise she's profoundly dull, and I got very weary of hearing about her attempts to bed Bendix and about her jealousy of her best friend Dixie's experiences of motherhood (what sort of name is Dixie for a thirty-year-old?!). And I know she was meant to have suffered - but would that have made her so unable to understand humanity that she wasn't bothered to find out anything about her housekeeper? I think Jewell meant us to see her as some sort of solitary genius, but her conversation sounded so silly that it was hard to believe. But Lydia was an angel compared to spoilt little Essex princess Robyn, who thought that emptying a bin was an act for which she deserved canonization, who couldn't cope with anything academic (despite having got four As at A'level) and who was endlessly going on about her own beauty and her happiness with the one-dimensional Jack. I've rarely disliked a character more in literature (apart from Adrian and Cat in Jewell's 'The Third Wife'). Dean, the third sibling, was nicer, but incredibly wet, and seemed to get over the tragedy in the first chapters with amazing speed. None of the three seemed to have any real interests or - despite Robyn's A Levels and Lydia's millions - aspirations. Things improved a bit when Daniel and Maggie came into the story, and the bits in the hospice were vivid and poignant. But both characters ran into danger of getting overly sentimental at times, and the way Daniel had lived his life felt unbelievable.
The plot wasn't great either, alternating between melodrama (the carving-knife wielding father in Wales, Daniel's Terrible Deed as a medical student, Bendix's kleptomania, Robyn's belief that Jack must be her half-brother - a rather unnecessary plot strand that fizzled out quickly) and endless bland conversations reminiscent of those you might hear on the bus on a Saturday afternoon. Some aspects - Daniel living as a Kept Man for most of his life even though he allegedly couldn't connect with anyone - were just silly. The eventual meeting of the siblings was annoying rather than moving - they just sat around making silly remarks, getting drunk, declaring they adored each other, and going on about how seeing someone 'like, dying' was really awful -for them of course, rather than the person involved. Daniel's brother became a rather convenient Deus ex Machina, and the ending was decidedly sentimental.
There's a great book to be written about sperm donor children, but this one emphatically is not it. I'm beginning to think that Jewell's enjoyable 'The House We Grew Up In' was a one-off, as I've enjoyed none of her other books.
on 25 May 2012
Like most Jewell fans you don't hesitate when you see her latest novel hit the shelves and 'The Making of Us' is another example of a convincing, memorable and heart-felt story.
Jewell has clearly stretched herself with this one and handles the piece-ing together of each story with delicacy and wonder. Clearly anyone who doesn't enjoy this should stick to something less dreamy...non-fiction perhaps?!
on 26 May 2012
The making of us was a shift away from what I have come to expect from Lisa, but her writing style, once again, is unmistakeable. I didn't really know what to expect from reading the back cover but dived into it wholeheartedly nonetheless.
The main characters in the book are Lydia, Dean, Robyn, Maggie and Daniel; all intrinsically linked, and yet almost drifting through life with that niggling feeling that something is missing. The chapters aren't numbered; they're titled with the name of the person they are about. This makes for a slightly slow start as you get to know each character in-depth. I can fully understand why Lisa has taken this approach, though; because, seeing as none of the characters know each other, it's the only real way to get an insight into their world and mindset. If she had jumped from one story to another within chapters, it would have been far too staccato to become involved the way I did.
The book starts in 1979 with Glenys, Lydia's mother. It briefly sets the scene for what will take place in the present day. The first main character we meet is Lydia, in 1998. She's eighteen years old, and aside from her faithful dog, she feels like a misfit. The main story starts with Lydia again; this time in 2009. Having already met the eighteen year-old Lydia, we already know her much better than anyone else in her life in the present day. I think this was the masterstroke, and one which made me feel closer to her than any of the other characters.
Dean is a young man who, like the others, is just drifting aimlessly along in his life. A series of events that befall him lead him to retire even further into the shell that he has built around himself. A chance meeting one drunken night leads him to do something that he would never have normally done, and from that moment things start to change.
Robyn has it all, lovely parents, a great future ahead of her and a good circle of friends. Life couldn't be better really, or could it? Although she doesn't know it yet, there is one thing in life she has always dreamt of having, one thing that she never thought she'd get. The thought of it frightens and excites her all at the same time.
Maggie, at 53 years old, never thought she'd find love again. The man she'd been seeing for a while now was strangely reticent, but she enjoyed his company so much that she never really pushed the boundaries. But now, now it seemed she would never get to feel his skin against hers. Daniel was now in a hospice, and things were looking very bleak. He'd originally only complained of a sore back, but in the end no amount of painkillers would let him lead a normal life. He felt it all slipping away from him. He knew he must tell someone, and that someone was Maggie. And Maggie knew that whatever he asked her to do, that she would do it. So, when Daniel finally opened up to her, she was determined to help; determined to make sure it wasn't too late.
Out of the five main characters, the two that stood out the most to me were Lydia and Dean. I wanted to hug both of them. I took them into my heart and I didn't want to let go. They became very special to me.
The story, as a whole, is fascinating. It opens up a world that many of us will never have experienced. Although the loss, determination, fear and love that we encounter along the way is something we can all relate to.
Lisa's writing is so descriptive. Her talent, to me, stems from the way in which she can richly describe something in a minimal amount of words. It's like every word has to earn its right to be on the page, and she makes each and every one earn that right. It's such a joy to read her work. It's akin to eating the finest dessert; each mouthful a wonderful array of synapse-tingling joy.
I take my hat off to her once again for a marvellous journey. The only downside is that she made those characters so lifelike, I now really miss them. A beautiful tale, and a pleasure to be part of their lives and witness the moments that none of them will ever forget.