The Light in the Hallway, Amanda Prowse
Genre: Women’s fiction, General Fiction (adult)
Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.
Anyway, that’s just my personal gripe so…the book. Wonderful. One more Amanda delivers a story that’s thought provoking, gripping, realistic and with gentle touches of humour when parts get too dark.
Nick, oh poor Nick. I’ve been there, had those days when you look around at the empty house and wonder “is it really worth carrying on? What’s the point of it without your love beside you?” Yet he finds the strength to continue, mostly for his beloved son Oliver, who’s also struggling, not just from having lost his mum to cancer, but with his first few weeks at university.
Nick talks to Kerry in his mind, seeking her advice, and I still do that with my husband nearly four years later. He pretends she’s just in another room, and that’s so real, I know I did that too, taking comfort from the fact that maybe, just maybe, they really could be there. Even now some nights I reach out in bed and pretend my arm is resting on his body. Logic tells you they aren’t there of course, but comfort lets you believe the lie for a bit longer.
Its seems like it would be a heavy, sad story but its not. As in real life things happen that tug at the heartstrings whilst making you smile. The three boys, Nick, Eric and Alex and of course Half Bike. That’s was such fun to read even while I shared their struggles. The story veers between Nick, Eric and Alex now and as young lads, when everything can be an adventure. I adored Eric, as a lad and a man. He had such a wonderful sense of humour, his constantly calling the others female names “ You OK Shirley?” stuff like that, he managed to make me smile even when I veered on tears.
Its not just a snippet of time, a vignette of life story, but one where the characters go through the tragedy of Kerry’s death, and try to move forward. Such is the way of life that it moves on whether we are ready or not, so we see Olly’s struggles at uni in his first days, Nick’s return to work, trying to pick up his life, and of course his sister in law who’s determined no-one will replace her sister.
Nick going to the shop the day after her death to be told by his mum he couldn’t, it Wasn’t Done. He’s so right when he says its like wading through a minefield of unwritten rules, never knowing when you’re about to break one. When he’s talking about it only being x months since Kerry died, and yet for him he’d been grieving ever since they knew she wasn’t going to recover, more than a year ealier. That’s so true, that last year they went through she was alive, but not really living, and I can see how Nick’s grieving started much earlier than people would suppose.
Slowly Nick starts to pick up his life and move forward, helped by his childhood friends, mostly the wonderful Eric. I adore that man, he made me laugh so many times with his phrases, and also made me tearful at what happened to him as a young lad.
Amanda really can write characters well, both as adults and as kids. I really believed in those boys, was there alongside them shouting sh it-sticks on the camping trips, searching for bits for the bike, heartbroken at the idea of Eric moving away. I keep thinking of little bits that made me laugh, other than Eric’s wonderful name calling, and one that just sprung in my mind was the baby, when the boys wonder how long are women pregnant. “ They take at least a year to bake” says Eric knowledgeably, shocking Nick and Alex. I could just imagine the three of them mulling over the weird ways of adults.
Its a wonderful story, and one I really enjoyed once more. Amanda delivers the kind of story I love to read, real people, real scenes, stories that I can easily imagine happening, and of course always with an ending that neatly wraps things up. This time she really did bring things full circle, showing a path of happiness for these characters that had been through so much.
Stars: Five, another wonderful read. full of heartbreak and happiness, tears and triumphs.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers