Women's Fiction

Mother by Hannah Begbie

Publisher:                              HarperCollins

Genre:                                    Women’s Fiction

Date of Publication:              26th July 2018

Date of Review:                     6th July 2018


Her love for her daughter is everything. Her love for him is deadly.

Cath had twenty-five perfect days with her newborn daughter before Mia’s deadly illness was diagnosed.

As her life implodes, Cath’s despair drives her to a parental support group where she meets a father in a similar situation, the dangerously attractive Richard – charming, handsome and adamant that a cure for their children lies just over the horizon: everything Cath wants to believe.

Their affair – and the chance to escape reality – is unavoidable, but carries catastrophic consequences: the nature of Mia’s illness means that Cath’s betrayal endangers not just her marriage but the life of her baby.

Can she stop herself before it’s too late?

My Review

As a new member of RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme busy trying to finish my first draft, I couldn’t wait to read the winning entry of the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.  With its gorgeous cover and contemporary title as soon as it was announced on NetGalley I requested this ARC straight away.

Although a bit of a slow starter, the story picks up as the characterisation builds, and has a nail-biting climax that you won’t see coming. The author’s in-depth knowledge of cystic fibrosis and the effects of this debilitating illness on the whole family is apparent in the realistic first-person narrative.

My opinion of the protagonist is a divided one. The story is well written and there were times that I did empathise with Cath; being a new mother is exhausting at the best of times, let alone having to deal with Mia’s condition. But she is also incredibly selfish and even when she realises her actions are putting her daughter at risk she can’t stop herself. It’s almost as if she has a dual personality: acting as both the protagonist who goes all out to find out as much as she can about finding a cure for her daughter, and the antagonist whose actions puts Mia’s life in danger. This conflict between the protagonist as a mother, and the protagonist as a woman is what keeps the pages turning.

But if Cath is selfish, then Richard – who she meets at the CF help group, is in another league. He is prepared to lie and put baby Mia at risk rather than admit the truth. But to Cath he represents hope as well as a means of escape.

My favourite character was the protagonist’s husband. Dave just seems to get on with whatever is thrown at him and would have made a good protagonist himself. The narrative is written in first-person from Cath’s perspective throughout. Throwing in a conflicting perspective would have been interesting.

The story is more about the protagonist’s inner journey, and her coming to terms with her daughter’s illness.  It also reflects on her relationships with her wider family and her own inner demons irrespective of what she is going through with Mia.

The narrative is well-written, and although the protagonist wasn’t particularly likeable, she was three-dimensional and completely un-stereotypical. There are a few twists and turns towards the end of the novel but I would have liked to have seen a few more thrown in throughout.

Under literature Love’s rating scheme,

this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars for its genre

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