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Finding strength in adversity… novel set in Southampton and Somerset

15th November 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse, novel set in Southampton and Somerset.

Nina McCarrick is enjoying a good life – a beautiful home, two gorgeous sons at private school, and she has Finn, her loving husband. Until one day, that is, when Finn’s car careers off the road and he is killed. Within days she discovers that she and her sons are impecunious, facing the debt collector and are soon to be evicted from their splendid home. How could her husband have hidden all this from her? To protect her? Riddled perhaps with his own shame? Fear? He clearly had become adept at the art of hiding things from her.

novel set in Southampton and Somerset

Her friendship group revolved around the school but her ‘friends’ are singularly unsupportive of her new situation, and she has to turn to her sister Tiggy, who has remained in Southampton where Nina largely grew up – in poverty.

But Portswood in Southampton is like chalk to the proverbial cheese of her life hitherto. It is a full circle as she comes back to her roots which, at some level, Nina had come to shun. Living in a shabby, borrowed flat on the Portswood Road, a main artery in the city, she struggles to settle, the flat is dark and sour and, frankly, soul-destroying. Her children, too, are in dazed shock at the turn of events, life has truly landed on its head.

Nina has no job qualifications to her name, so her search for work is dispiriting. The pressure is on, money is so scarce, she is down to counting the pence rather than the pounds. The boys now have to attend the local school which Nina herself attended.

Tiggy, the sister from whom she has become estranged, is a guiding hand as Nina comes down to earth with a bump. Tiggy supports Nina to find her own resources and perhaps question the kind of life and marriage she has had. This is a new and extremely challenging chapter in her life.

This is the first book I have read by Amanda Prowse and I will be reading more. She has a fluid style of writing and constructs a thoughtfully angled story that is really rather edifying. Rags to riches to rags and on to spiritual riches perhaps….

Setting as far as TripFiction is concerned is not strong. But what the book does convey is a good sense of English class culture and diverse lives in Britain today.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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