on 9 August 2011
I'm not a big fan of books about babies. I'm too young to have a baby and I hate hearing about how terrible pregnancy is/how fat it makes people/how utterly painful it is so I don't read too many baby books. Then Came You is a baby book, all about the conception of one very special baby and four women who come together to make it happen, but without sounding stupid, despite being all about a baby, it wasn't as babyish as I expected. I suspect that makes no sense, but I know what I mean. It was about so much more than the baby. When I read the synopsis, I was incredibly intrigued. Four women are linked to one baby. Jules is desperate to get her father clean from drink/drugs so when she learns she can make $20k by donating her eggs, she goes for it, seeing it as her last chance to save her father; Annie, on the other hand, has a husband and two kids not to mention a huge farmhouse to finance and sees money is tight so decides to become a surrogate, knowing the money will really help them; Bettina is the daughter of Marcus Croft, a billionaire and can't believe her Dad has married India, who she suspects to be a faker and India is the woman Marcus marries, who's desperate to have a baby but after numerous miscarriages realises the only way she'll be able to have a baby is by surrogate and someone else's eggs. Clever, no?
I must admit, I found the synopsis to be misleading (the original synopsis, not the one above). Everything it says is correct, but it's actually very spoilery and I do wonder why it was written the way it was written because, frankly, the book would have been just as good - if not better - if the spoilery part of the synopsis had been left out because it would have been a major shock (I would suggest not going to Amazon UK and looking at the synopsis). Spoilery or not, I truly loved the book. Seriously, with this novel I can understand why Jennifer Weiner is a big deal. It was an amazing novel and the way she span all four girl's stories was the stuff of magic. Throughout the entire novel I was wondering what was going to happen next, how each girl would cope with what they were doing and I found each story to stand apart nicely and each voice (as it's told in first-person narrative) to be clear and easily to differentiate between each girl. I was taken in by the plot, by the writing, by it all.
What I liked best were the characters. The story is excellent, don't get me wrong, but the characters are so unique and so different that they really make the novel. Jules was my favourite character, I found her to be so warm and so inviting and I'd have loved an entire novel about her. I could have read about her all day, and I really looked forward to her next chapter and her next chapter. I loved her friendship with Kimmie and I found Jules' entire storyline refreshing. Annie, also, was a character I really warmed to. I felt for her, stuck at home, feeling useless as her husband Frank went out to work each day to try and make enough money as an airport security guard so they didn't get into debt and I admired her for wanting to be a surrogate. I find the whole surrogate thing fascinating - you have to be a proper selfless person to do something like that, it's hugely admirable. I liked Bettina, too (are you sensing a pattern here?). I liked how protective she was of her father, how she wanted to make sure he'd be safe and wouldn't get heartbroken again. She was sensible and rational and it was sweet to see how much she cared about her father. I did worry I wouldn't like India as we meet Bettina before we meet India so it sort of colours of view of India, but India surprised me. I was all ready to hate her and for her to be the horrible step-mother trying to dupe Marcus, but it wasn't like that at all and I found India to be just as good a character as the rest. They're all entirely different, but they all want the same thing: to help someone they love, to make their lives better.
Then Came You was a brilliant novel, let that be clear. I may not have enjoyed Best Friends Forever or Fly Away Home as much as I wanted to, but Then Came You ticked all the boxes and then some. I finally see what everyone else sees. Weiner is a master at weaving an intriguing, absorbing story, I just hadn't happened upon it until now. The novel never lagged, not at all, and I was always intrigued to read more, to see what would happen next to India, Annie, Jules and Bettina. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest and I truly have nothing bad to say about the book. It was pure delight from start to finish and I found all the elements were there. It had everything I want in a Chick Lit novel - characters I love, writing I can get lost in and a dilemma worthy of a Jodi Picoult novel. I hoped so bad that I would one day get to see the brilliance of Jennifer Weiner and I finally have! I'd absolutely recommend this novel, it's a book that will speak to a lot of people - to people like India, struggling to conceive, to people like Jules trying to sort out her addict father, to people like Annie who want to help other women out. It'll speak to people who don't even have problems like that (like me). It was a wonderful read and I appear to be the newest fan on the Weiner train.