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This was a good read until author eliminates husband. I mean really? A normal mom wouldn't leave her children no matter what. My mom never left even after suffering from regular domestic abuse. Now this woman leaves for a year and leaves the hard responsibility to her sister and her husband. This was the hard phase for the kids where they'll cause more headaches for their parents but what does mommy do? She runs away from the responsibilities. Then she comes back expecting her kids to call her mom. I personally think author is not that smart. Just so both mother and sister can be on good page, she eliminated husband. He might not be the most understanding character but wife was worse. Rather than talking her problems, she runs away like a coward. Husband was far better character than her and he deserved good ending where he is alive.
Maggie and Stephen married with baby Emily on the way. Her career plans put on hold, Maggie was shocked to discover soon after Emily’s birth that she was expecting a second baby. Now with a two and one year old, she has become overwhelmed by a constant round of housework and child care. There is no time for anything she wants to do, not even befriending other young mothers. Maggie soon finds herself in a downward mental spiral which comes to a head when an accident at home affecting the children sees them both in A & E. Maggie’s younger sister and husband Stephen are there, but in the chaos that ensues, Maggie realises she can’t take any more and walks out on them all. Stephen and sister Rose are left to cope with life after Maggie. In contrast to her sister, Rose is a single with her own flat and a good job. She also loves kids and is a good organiser. At times she has envied her sister and longed for family life. Now, despite, the trauma surrounding Maggie’s departure, she has an opportunity to have just that. Everything begins slowly. Stephen offers to financially support her if she gives up her job to become a full time carer to Emily and Elliot. This she does and begins to enjoy this new lifestyle. Her skills soon have the family home well organised. The children gradually beginning to stop asking where their mother is. The main question here is, where does Rose draw the line? As time goes on and Maggie is not found, Stephen and Rose settle into what Rose perceives as her perfect life. The life she feels she deserves. But when Maggie is found, everything is thrown into chaos. I didn’t really like any of the main protagonists in this story. Maggie’s best friend Elaine, who never gave up looking for her, was the nearest; the only one who seemed to care and was determined to find her. Stephen couldn’t see how his wife struggled. He appeared to think in terms of himself as the breadwinner and that his wife’s job to keep house and look after the children should be accomplished without any trouble. He didn’t see, or rather chose not to, the mental health issues that began to crop up. All he seemed to do was criticise. It was clear the hasty marriage and the living pattern they fell into after the children were born showed up distinct differences in what each of them really wanted. Time away allowed Maggie to heal, and also to become someone other than a 24/7 mother. Stephen was quite blinkered. He saw his role as the provider, not really interested in what had been going on at home during the day, or whether Maggie was coping. Rose, the supportive sister didn’t exactly jump straight into her sister’s shoes. However, right from the moment she disappeared, the idea of replacing Maggie had planted itself firmly in her brain until little by little she convinced herself the role was hers by default. What happened after Maggie’s return left me feeling worried about the long term effect on the children. Stephen and Rose’s solution to the problem, for me, didn’t work and was quite cruel to Maggie. And the final twist at the end, I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t sure how this story would end, but the way it did left me wondering whether I could have been as forgiving as Maggie. A good strong debut from Alison and look forward to reading her next book.
There were things about the book I enjoyed. I was curious to see what happened the whole way through. I liked the mix of Maggie and Rose's POV and I think the writer wrote both sides really well. I don't think I could say on the whole that I liked the book though. Too many people just accepted that Rose and Stephen were together, and I do feel like Stephen should have gotten more scrutiny. Ailsa needed to be fleshed out a bit more, there was so much potential for suspicion, for backstory but she was just convenient. I did not find the ending satisfying at all, even though Maggie had decided to be okay with their system, it still felt like she was being punished for having mental health issues. The only reason she was in that situation in the first place was because Rose had threatened to tell the children she'd abandoned them. Blackmailing her sister by misrepresenting her struggle to her own kids made me so frustrated with Rose's actions and while she lost Stephen she still managed to keep the children she stole. During the last couple of chapters I was low-key hoping for a secret murder or trick. It was a well written and interesting read, but I didn't feel it was gripping.
As a mother, I found this a difficult read because of the circumstances that Maggie’s children, Emily and Elliot, are forced in to. They are innocent victims to Maggie’s suffering that turns into a conflict between sisters.
From early on in the novel, it is evident that Maggie is suffering from extreme post-natal depression. Escaping the role as mother after a horrific accident, Maggie convinces herself that her absence is what is best for her young children. As an outsider to Maggie’s circumstances, I found it really obvious that she was not herself; I was puzzled and mortified that those around her had not seen she needed emotional and psychological support. With her husband’s dismissal of Maggie’s behaviours to her sister’s abandonment, the writer paints a somber portrayal of early motherhood and the desperation and feelings of hopelessness really struck a cord with me as a reader and mother. I could understand Maggie’s feelings and felt so sad that no one was around her who she could reach out to. It takes drastic actions before anyone notices that all is not well – and by this point it is too late.
This sobering portrayal dominates most of the story. It isn’t until about half way through does it become more thrilling. As a result, I found this book really uncomfortable to read because of the lack of help Maggie receives and how isolated she becomes from her children. Watching Rose become a stronger figure in the children’s lives felt morally wrong and I wish social services had been more prominent in helping Maggie.
Maggie eventually returns home and finds her old life has changed: her sister now plays the role of mother and Maggie is not even a memory for Emily and Elliot. It is heartbreaking to read and I wanted there to be a graceful transition that would see Maggie re-immersed into the family home. However, this is not to be and Rose’s actions means she uses the children to ensure her position is never threatened.
There are some surprising developments along the way in this story, but I could never shake off Maggie’s initial feelings of hopelessness and abandoning her children. It made me feel guilty for Maggie and this meant the thriller aspect of the novel did not have as much impact. In my opinion, I thought the story moved incredibly slowly, reinforcing Maggie’s overwhelming grief at her self-defined failure as a mother.
Maybe I took this book to heart too much. However, as a mother I struggled to understand Rose’s manipulative behaviour and the lack of support that Maggie had.
Chose this from this month’s Amazon Prime First Reads
This is an interesting angle on the ‘cuckoo in the home’ theme with the cuckoo not being a stranger or a friend who turns out not to be but a family member and in fact your Sister….this could have gone either way I felt and it went the right way ( well for me reading it anyway 😊) It was challenging to keep your emotions at bay reading about the 2 Sisters and why Maggie and Rose both did as they did,the reasoning behind it and the fallout from both of their major life decisions,it was easy sometimes to tut and say ‘well I wouldn’t have done that’ but then as the book goes on you begin to realise things are not as clear cut as you would think and the decisions they both made were not made on a whim at all but many factors are in play…..I don't want to say more on the plot or what happens other than it is intriguing and the author writes both viewpoints sympathetically and passionately There is a shock near the end,I know some people don’t like reviewers saying that and sometimes I don’t but this shock is worth a mention and it then changes everyones plans and the focus of the book Well written,engaging and enjoyable and as said at the beginning a really good angle of the ‘cuckoo’ theme
A good storyline highlighting the feelings of many women who don’t feel fulfilled by motherhood but still prepared to sacrifice for love anything for their children. Enjoyed it but rather disappointed in the ending
This is a quick read, partly because you do want to find out what happens. Unfortunately, at the end I was left not only dissatisfied but also with a certain amount of distaste. The story is about 3 adults, with another 4 as the supporting cast, and revolves around what's best for 2 young supposedly loved, children. So the three main adults are seriously self- absorbed, the sisters' parents have their moments but, they did bring these women up to have the mindsets they have..and it shows. The only character with any normality is Laura, cast aside at the end because..y'know .. sisters. I pity those children and the lives and inevitable emotional turmoil they will experience. Ultimately, if you can handle the me me me ..it's a good enough read.
Maggie struggling with her life as mother of a toddler and baby, wife of an unsupportive husband and adrift from her previous career, has an accident which leads to a visit to A&E. In shame and broken she leaves her children at the hospital in the care of her sister Rose and her husband Stephen and catches a bus to Glasgow. In her absence Rose takes her place so Maggie’s return is a surprise. Maggie has to work out what her role can be and appears very strong even though she has had a long breakdown. The plot was intriguing although some things were clearly signposted - the number times it was mentioned that Rise was a clever manipulator and was used to getting what she wanted! Practicalities, credibility and complete lack of police involvement aside, there was an interesting storyline of the sister characters. The only character I liked was the dogged friend Laura and her believable reactions. The self obsession and complete lack of consideration of the parents irked and reduced the emotional investment and I was aware of checking the percentage remaining a few times. The situation was a good start but the characters could have been better developed and differentiated. Even the remote Scottish character used the same form of endearment (lovely). Too many omissions distracted my empathy.