Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 March 2018
I have read loads of Amanda Prowse’s books now and would call myself a massive fan of her writing. I always joke that I think she has my house bugged with hidden cameras because I can relate to her books in some way or another, and that has happened yet again in this book.
Anna lives with her Mum and older brother Joe in Honor Oak Park, South London, and although the family are poor, Anna and her mum are happy, older sibling Joe struggles with life and his drug addiction. Anna simply idolises Joe, and one afternoon she plans her wedding to him, lining up her cuddly toys as wedding guests, and with a pillowcase on her head to act as a veil, she proudly tells her mum that they will have two children Fifi and Fox. But after one row too many for Joe’s liking, he leaves and Anna is left with her mum.
When Anna was nine and at school one day, she was taken to the Headteachers office where a social worker explained that her mum had died very suddenly, and unexpectedly at home. Joe was found, and returned home to raise Anna. However, child rearing was low on his priorities but soon the house becomes nothing more than a drug den, and poor little Anna is left to bring herself up. She copes with life by writing letters to her imaginary children Fifi and Fox. When Joe leaves the house one day and never returns, Anna is taken in by her Aunt who is her only surviving relative. Alongside her gay cousin Jordan, they study for their exams, but one evening she over hears a conversation between her aunt and uncle where she her aunt says that she wishes Anna wasn’t in the house, Anna decides to go to return to London. There she searches for her father, but with only a first name, and the fact that he is a Black Cabbie, the search is fruitless and Anna is placed in care. Whilst at Mead House, she keeps her head down, and studies hard, and just before she leaves the care system, she shares her bedroom Shania who is angry with life and the institution she has been thrown into.
When Anna goes out into the big wide world, she secures an office job, and a small but homely flat, and meets Ned, a market stall holder, and his lovely family.
And it is here in the story, that I am going to leave you, to carry on reading and finding out about these wonderful characters for yourself.
I loved this book! Yet again, Mrs Prowse writes in such a way that you feel she is in the room telling you the story, rather than reading it from the page. The characters are completely believable, and I really adored Sylvie, Ned’s mum, who was a real loyal Londoner! The story kept me guessing, even at the end, I was convinced it was going to go one way, but Amanda took us up a different path which I was delighted about.
If I’m honest, I didn’t warm to Theo, but I’m excited to read his side of events in the next book, because I think he has a lot of demons going on.
And why do I feel that Amanda bugs my house, or is part of my life? Well, seventeen years ago, I was pregnant, and from the day I found out and for the next three months I wrote letters to my unborn baby, explaining how happy I was to be pregnant, and telling them about all the fun and fantastic things that we were going to do together as a family. Sadly, Mother Nature had other plans, and that dream was taken away from me at 12 weeks, and the letters were buried in my back garden. Reading about Fifi and Fox didn’t make me sad, it reassured me that writing letters to unborn children is the most natural thing in the world, and that I wasn’t mad (although I thought I was at the time!!!)
Amanda Prowse’s characters are contained in the book for hundreds of pages or so, but will be in your heart forever.