You’d never guess that Fliss Chapron doesn’t have it all.
All Fliss wants is to see two blue lines telling her she is pregnant with her much longed for second baby. But as the negative tests stack up, dreams of completing her perfect family feel more hopeless every day.
After years of disappointment, Fliss’s husband Ben is spending more time at the office than in their marital bed, and Fliss finds herself wondering who could be responsible for their inability to conceive another child. Yet, where do you lay the blame when it comes to having a child – and can anyone really be at fault…
As Ben becomes increasingly distant, Fliss begins to question whether her desire for a baby is just a sticking plaster to save her marriage. Because in the end, how well can you ever know another person…even the man you’re married to?
I must admit, I was slightly worried about my promise to read and review Catherine Miller’s debut novel, Waiting For You, published by Carina UK on 10th March. You see (and I’m whispering this, in case people think I’m strange…), I really don’t have a maternal bone in my body, and I’d read enough pre-publicity to know that this book had a focus on motherhood and the desire for children. But I managed to overcome that when I read and loved Julie Cohen’s Dear Thing – and equally when I enjoyed Sarah Rayner’s The Two Week Wait. So I felt a bit more comfortable trying this one – and I’m so glad I did, because I really enjoyed it very much.
Fliss was my friend from the very beginning, as she waited for the windows to reveal the result of her latest pregnancy test, and I really felt for her in her desire to provide a brother or sister for young Hollie. I still wonder really how on earth she ended up with such a self-centred and uninterested husband as Ben – family provider he might be, but he really seemed to have very few redeeming features. The scene where he tucks into lamb shanks, lovingly prepared but almost spoiled by his late arrival home, as the world disintegrates around them, says it all really.
Fliss, on the other hand, is simply lovely – her slightly chaotic and neglected home is wonderfully vivid (and I thought I was alone in using spit to remove fingerprints from door frames…), and her relationship with Hollie is quite beautifully described. I liked the creative part of her too – the mosaic table, the hand-painted wallpaper, the preliminary drawings for the hallway. And her great friendship with Ange – initially through on-line support forums, later in larger than life reality – touched me to the heart.
This story was a long way from the simple linear one I was perhaps expecting it to be. It had twists and surprises I never saw coming – just as I thought I knew where things were heading, the story took another loop and turn. Emotionally too, it’s really quite complex – and all the complications are really well handled, with an amazing authenticity to the way people behave and react. The dialogue throughout is really excellent – very natural, and well written – and the characterisation quite superb.
And some of those secondary characters! Carrie might be a bit of a pantomime villain, but she’s quite brilliantly described – and Leon in his black t-shirt with the rippling muscles (and more) beneath took the spotlight whenever he appeared. And then there’s Hollie – a child even I would like to make pizza with, with her lovely child’s logic and observations.
This was a really lovely read – and so accomplished that it’s certainly never identifiably a “debut novel”. And please don’t be put off by the apparent subject matter as I so nearly was – this lovely book is about so much more, wonderfully uplifting and life affirming throughout all the challenges the characters face, and I really, really enjoyed it.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Carina UK for my advance reading e-copy.
About the author
When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren’t full enough so wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with Carina UK. There is a possibility she has aged remarkably in that time. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, was released on 10th March 2016.
Catherine was a NHS physiotherapist, but for health reasons (uveitis and sarcoidosis) she retired early from this career. As she loved her physiotherapy job, she decided if she couldn’t do that she would pursue her writing dream. It took a few years and a couple of babies, but in 2015 she won the Katie Fforde bursary, was a finalist in the London Book Fair Write Stuff Competition and highly commended in Woman magazine’s writing competition. Soon afterwards she signed with Carina. Soon after that, she collapsed in a heap and was eventually revived by chocolate.
Follow Catherine on Twitter or via her Facebook author page. And I must also mention that Catherine is one eighth of that wonderfully supportive group of ladies and writers, The Romaniacs – do take a look at their website if it’s not already as familiar to you as it is to me.