Published: 26th July 2018
Meet Martha Ross. She dreams of being a singer, but she’s been working in a call centre for far too long. She’s separating from her husband, the father of her eighteen-month-old son. And she’s moving back home to her parents, toddler in tow. Life has thrown her a few lemons, but Martha intends to make a gin and tonic. It’s time to become the woman she’s always wanted to be. And at least her mum’s on hand to provide free childcare – along with ample motherly judgement, of course. But Martha’s attempts at reinvention – from writing a definitive, non-negotiable list of everything she’s looking for in a new man, to half-marathons, business plans and meditation retreats – tend to go awry in the most surprising of ways. And soon she comes to realise that in order to find lasting love, happiness and fulfilment, she needs to find herself first…
Thank you to Transworld for kindly sending me a review copy.
The plot begins with an introduction to our main character, Martha who is about to make a life changing decision about her marriage and from the opening page, it is clear that she already knows what she wants to do but a little nudge from someone else is enough for her to hit send on the text to end it all (oh how modern of her). Martha is a vibrant, female character who seems to lacking confidence in certain aspects of her life and as readers watch her embark on her new adventure of being a single mum to a toddler, she slowly steps out of her shell.
“Unrequited love when you have been promised absolutely nothing is painful, but unrequited love from someone who has promised you the world, is a slow death.”
With the aid of her two closest friends; Leanne (the sensible one) and Cara (the wild one), Martha embarks on a spot of online dating in which she discovers her ideal man called George. From there on, the pair exchange messages, words of wisdom and a few phone calls but I knew that he wasn’t the right one for her and in actual fact, I hoped that the man standing in the wings would be Mr Right For Martha. The side of the plot which I didn’t agree on was how much Martha seemed to not focus on her son – after all, she was now a single parent, sharing custody with her husband, but majority of the time, she thought about herself (not always a bad thing) and Moses was in the care of her mother for the majority of the plot which was slightly alarming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fictional world but she just didn’t come across as a mum – she just didn’t seem to care all that much about her son during the first quarter of the book or so. Martha seemed to spend a lot of her time glued to her phone, going off on yoga retreats with a colleague from work, ditching the supermarket shop to go drink with Cara – do anything aside from be with her son.
“If anyone was going to walk out, it was going to be me, preferably after covering her with milkshake. Instead, she gets to glide away like a model, leaving me to pay for her untouched hot chocolate with my eleven pounds sixty three.”
Martha was certainly relatable – a woman who was very determined to change her career, be a better mother, to exercise more, to step outside of her comfort zone, but in reality, all she wanted to do was sit with her friends and drink wine whilst messaging the man from the dating app. I did enjoy the plot of the book but Martha had no sparkle; she was going through a divorce, learning to discover herself once again and so, she had no glow about her. I wanted her to be motivated to do all of the things on her to-do list, I wanted her to be a better person for the sake of herself as well as her son but I didn’t want her to be happy with this random online man. Martha never really gave anything her complete focus – not her son, not her singing, not her friendship with Leanne or Cara, the only side to her life which she really cared about was the mystery man from the internet.
“Today there is time. I will make time because my drama deserves as much attention as anything he has to offer.”
In all honesty, the book went at a really lovely pace but the final few chapters were completely rushed and before I had chance to turn the page, a happy ending was created almost out of nowhere. Martha never told readers about her business, about her online dating life, about fixing her relationship with her Mum – the love story was pieced together and that was that. The narrative deserved a few more chapters of sheer explanation simply for the reader (yes, we do have our imaginations) as it’s very easy to be absorbed by Martha and her world. I did enjoy the book and I think it’s a lovely debut novel from Charlene, it’ll be interesting to see what she writes next.