Today is the day that things are going to change for Rachel Bidewell. She will walk through the doors of Clifton Avenue Care Home and start a new life.
Rachel is returning to work. And as she discovers, juggling a new job, three children and an ex husband can feel like drowning. Someone needs to throw her a lifeline…
Philip doesn’t seem like an obvious lifesaver. He has just lost the one person who ever cared for him and, even as an adult, he doesn’t know how to live in the real world.
But might Philip and Rachel each have something the other needs?
Well Penguin, you’ve done it again – another debut novel in Beautiful Day by Kate Anthony, and another that I absolutely loved from the opening pages and Rachel’s first experience of Clifton Avenue Residential Care Home through to its quite perfect ending.
Rachel is really struggling with everything life has thrown at her – her husband having left her for a younger woman, we watch her growing increasingly frustrated in her attempts to get her three children where they need to be on time, let down by her au pair and her kitchen equipment, and now she is returning to work as a care assistant. While her private life has its own challenges, at Clifton Avenue she is allocated as the key worker to Philip, a man mountain unused to human interaction and without any understanding of how to look after himself, who has recently lost his mother and come into the home. Add to that mix the horrendous Denise who manages the home, and her deputy Rob who is firmly in Rachel’s corner as she wrestles with her new responsibilities, and an excellent story unfolds.
All the characters are strongly drawn – Rachel’s mother-in-law who supports the family, the dreadful au pair, her husband’s new partner, the PTA rep who plagues her life. The children are real – with all their day-to-day problems, but with the warmest of hearts, and some of the scenes in which they play a part will stick with me for a long time. Philip is a real tour-de-force – the author’s experience of the world of social care is evident, and his frustration when coming to terms with new experiences absolutely breaks your heart. And we see Rachel develop – wholly believably – from a woman angry with the world into one who realises what really matters.
The writing is wonderful, all the more so when you remember it’s a debut novel, moving with ease between humour, tenderness and sadness. This book tackles so many issues, it might worry some that it’s going to be a bit “worthy”, but dismiss that thought immediately. Written with the wry sense of humour that you see in the best of chick lit, but dealing with difficult subjects along the way, this is a book for everyone to enjoy. I certainly did – Kate Anthony is an author to watch.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Penguin for my advance reading e-copy. Beautiful Day will be published in paperback and kindle editions on 10 April.
Kate Anthony grew up in the Midlands. On graduating, she began working as a residential social worker firstly with young offenders and later with vulnerable adults. She then joined the BBC, working as a producer in comedy for some years before moving to an independent production company as a drama producer. She lives close to Brighton with her family.