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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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...
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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!!!!!
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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
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on 28 July 2013
I have liked Adele's work in the past but found this book predictable and the characters rather annoying. The only saving grace was Margaret and her plight against dementia - the character was interesting and the subject matter touching. As for Eloise and Sara - best friends - really?? Eloise's perfection and Sara's jealousy got boring even before reaching half way and I found it difficult to care about either one of them. An easy, mindless read - not funny or poignant in any other way apart from Margaret's illness.
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on 18 September 2014
Eloise, loving wife and mother to three daughters agrees to fulfil her husband Mark's wish to leave her beloved London and move to Dartmouth. Her mother-in-law Margaret and father-in-law Ray live nearby and are very excited to have them all so close.However Margaret's health is failing to dementia, making it very challenging for all the family. Eloise is also faced with leaving her best friend Sara,they have shared so much together, and Eloise has always been so supportive to her, for Sara has been trying for such a long time to have a child and it is eating her up inside.
Shortly after moving Eloise finds herself in the position of trying to keep everyone happy,as circumstances prevailing their lives have become somewhat chaotic.
I have to say that in my opinion both Eloise and Sara have characters that are quite if not very hard to believe in!
A good read though,and I thought that Margaret's decline was sensitively told.
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on 6 April 2014
Only a strange sadistic belief that this book had to get better compelled me to finish it. I was wrong. With one main character that was so pathetic and spineless and another that was so jealous and manipulative the whole thing was depressing and unrealistic. Really don't bother.
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on 5 September 2012
This was a bit of an odd book; I nearly didn't get past the first few pages because of the bizarre - well I can only call it 'product placement' where the author namechecks a whole lot of aspirational brands in her early descriptions of characters. I mean BMW, OK, but 'BMW X5'?? Why? I don't even know what one is, and in a few years' time neither will anyone else! I wondered if it was meant to be satirical, to show how shallow and materialistic her characters were, but I also wondered if it was simply to collect sponsorship, as they do with films?

After the White Company/Farrow and Ball nonsense died down, things improved a bit, and although the plot was all a touch implausible, I did find the attempt to understand the experience of Alzheimer's from the inside genuinely moving (no idea how accurate it is, but I felt the effort was sincere), and the difficulties of negotiating friendships and relationships quite well done.

However it all fell apart a bit for me towards the end. There was another bizarre rush (or rash?) of product placement - again, actual models, not just brand names; has the author wondered what readers in a few years' time will make of all this, or does she really not value her own work enough to see it as more than this year's froth? Odd.

And I'm afraid I found plot in the later sections, and especially the 'twist', overdone, contrived and even a bit nasty.

So although I read the whole thing, and it kind of entertained me while I did so, I wouldn't really recommend this book - there are better reads out there.
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on 14 June 2013
The premise of the book sounded promising, unfortunately the characters in this book totally let the story down. Eloise is down right irritating with her perfect ways, plus her complete niavety; if I had a 'friend' like Sara she would have been history long before certain events occured.......... As for the 'twist' I guessed this half way through! I find it very hard to relate to any of the characters, annoyingly middle class where money, it seems, is never an issue.
The one good point of the book was seeing the dementia through Margaret's eyes, those parts were very touching. That is why this got 2 stars and not 1.
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on 24 May 2013
I just finished this after reading About Last Night and I've come to the conclusion that Adele Parks might need some professional help.

She either knows very little about relationships or has spent too much time in dysfunctional relationships.

In both stories the two women are supposed to be best friends but they have little in common, don't seem to like each other very much and treat each other badly.

The character Eloise in Whatever it Takes seems to be some type of dim witted martyr while Sara is selfish and self centered as well as cruel.

The men in the story are little more than props and are even more clueless and inadequate than their wives.

I gave the book two stars because I did want to see what happened. The premise of the book was good but the execution was ghastly. While the plot twist at the end was interesting it was also unbelievable to the point of being stupid.

I read an essay once about Adele Parks being "dumped" by a friend of hers and I can't help but wonder if these books are either revenge or a way for her to work out her personal issues. Either way she'll have to do it without my time and money. We'd all be a lot better off if she went for therapy and stopped subjecting readers to these unlikeable, unrealistic characters.
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