It’s such a pleasure today to be sharing my review of A Single Woman by Maggie Christensen, due for publication tomorrow (9th May) as an e-book and in paperback. My thanks to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
You might remember how very much I enjoyed both The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise (links are to my reviews): I also loved A Model Wife with its opportunity to follow the story of one of the more intriguing characters, Celia, from the second book. But I was thoroughly delighted to see that this book was an opportunity to reconnect with Bel and Matt, whose own story I’d so enjoyed, while featuring a new story that promised to explore those second chances and identifiable situations that have made the author’s other books such personal favourites.
Isla Cameron. headmistress at an elite girl’s school in Glasgow, is determinedly single, adroitly avoiding all attempts at matchmaking by a close friend.
Widower Alasdair MacLeod is grieving for the wife he lost two years earlier, struggling as the single father of two teenagers, and frustrated by the well-meaning interference of his in-laws.
When a proposed school trip to France brings Isla and Alasdair together, they find a connection in the discovery that each is suffering the loss of a loved one, but neither is interested in forming a relationship,
As their friendship grows, Alasdair struggles with his increasing attraction to the elegant schoolmistress, while Isla harbours concerns about the complications a relationship with him would bring.
Can Alasdair overcome his natural reserve, and can Isla open her heart to love again?
Readers of Christensen’s earlier books, The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, will love reconnecting with Bel and Matt while enjoying Isla Cameron’s unique story.
If you haven’t read the other books in this series, you’d have no problem whatsoever in making this one your first: it’s very much a stand-alone story featuring different main characters, with enough detail to understand what went before – but I hope it might introduce you to an author whose books you might enjoy as much as I do.
The author’s story-telling is just wonderful: she introduces you to her characters, sets the scene, and the story then unfolds around you – and her characters are always real people who you can’t fail to take to your heart as you watch them making their choices and mistakes.
Her books are often about fresh starts and second chances, and this one is no exception – widowed Alasdair, struggling to fill the role of both mother and father to his children, independent and self-sufficient headmistress Isla, gradually allowing themselves to expose their vulnerability, exploring the possibility of a future together. The authenticity of the emotional content is stunning – I liked them both very much, and felt for them as they tested out the possibilities with all the awkwardness and seemingly insurmountable hurdles that lie in their path. For both characters, this book explores perfectly that familiar conflict between self-reliance and loneliness, and never makes the obvious solutions easy – or anything less than totally realistic.
As always, the sense of place is perfect too – not Sydney and the Gold Coast this time, but Glasgow, and the home on the shores of the loch with its outstanding views, beautifully described. And I very much enjoyed the supporting characters – primarily the family I already knew well from the earlier books, dealing with their own reactions to the developing relationship while moving on with their own lives.
Although Maggie Christensen’s books might have particular appeal for me as an older reader, they have a special something that I think anyone would enjoy – if you still haven’t tried one of her books, I’d recommend them most highly. I loved this one – but I’ve loved every one I’ve read.
About the author
After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.
From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!
She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.