Tuesday 29 January 2013

Stay Close To Me by Helen Warner

Widow Jennifer is still trying to come to terms with losing her husband two years ago. She felt like she and Michael were soul mate, sharing passion and friendship as well as love for their daughters, Kate and Amy. But a face from the past brings back some painful memories and makes Jennifer reassess her life with Michael and the secret she has been keeping for over thirty years.

Amy leads a dream life. Married to successful businessman, Ben, Amy spends her days shopping and meeting friends for lunch before returning home to the children and the nanny. She doesn’t have to work or worry about money. Until one day when Ben doesn’t return home. Worried, Amy does a little digging and realises her luxurious lifestyle is about to come crashing down.

Kate doesn’t lead quite the same pampered lifestyle as her younger sister. Her dream of following in her parents’ footsteps and becoming a doctor were scuppered when she fell pregnant while at university, forcing her to drop out of her course. Now Kate is a nurse and married to Miles, juggling work with caring for their two children. Kate loves Miles but all the fire seems to have vanished from their relationship. Kate doesn’t feel at all appreciated or cherished by Miles so she is flattered when she starts to receive attention from another man. Jack is handsome and wealthy and there is a mutual attraction between the pair. Kate can’t seem to stay away from Jack but is she really willing to risk her marriage for a bit of passion with a near stranger?

Over the course of a year, the three women’s lives change irrevocably. Lives crumble as secrets are revealed but there are also fresh starts, new relationships are forged and long forgotten dreams are reignited.

Stay Close To Me centres around one family but there is plenty of drama going on; Jennifer’s past resurfacing, the crumble of Amy’s lavish lifestyle and Kate’s turmoil over Jack. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Amy to begin with as she was so spoilt. She didn’t work yet she employed a nanny to take care of her children, even when they spent most of the day at school. I was almost willing the rug to be whipped out from under her feet just to teach her a lesson. I have to say, however, that Amy did grow on me and she coped with her new circumstances remarkably well. There are times when she loses her temper, when she could have been more understanding but it must have been a scary and frustrating time for her so I can see why her emotions boiled over occasionally.

Some of the threads within the story were a little predictable but it didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the book. I really enjoyed delving into Jennifer’s past, uncovering the circumstances surrounding her secret and it was nice to see Amy growing as a person, moving far beyond the spoilt, vacuous woman she once was. I could also understand the lure of Jack for Kate. Miles was quite difficult and stubborn and they didn’t lead much of a life so the prospect of a wild fling with Jack was thrilling but it would also come with dire consequences for her family.

Stay Close To Me is a story of keeping secrets from those closest to you and the fallout created when those secrets are exposed.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy to review

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