Not Having It All by Jennie Ensor @jennie_ensor Relaunch #contemporaryfiction #bookreview and #extract

I am delighted to be helping out Jennie Ensor with the relaunch of her book Not Having It All. THis was a book I read last year and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Jennie is also holding a GIVEAWAY over on her Facebook Page, more details below.

Here is the new cover and I absolutely love it 😍

This is the story of four middle-aged people who are definitely NOT having it all. Meet Bea, Kurt, Maddie and Colin.

Senior lecturer Bea Hudson juggles her job at the ‘Psycho Lab’ with looking after her demanding five-year-old daughter, badly-behaved dog and next-to-useless au pair. When her chief exec husband is sent overseas and she’s left without childcare, Bea turns to best friend Maddie for help.

Kurt, downing whiskies in his hotel room as he imagines what his wife is up to, is convinced that Bea is becoming a little too friendly with Maddie. With characteristic obsession he enlists his neighbour’s help in a secret surveillance operation.

Found-object artist Maddie longs for a child of her own with a man she can trust – and he must love cats.

Divorced, risk-averse Colin is a senior manager at ‘the nation’s number one pussy insurer’. When he meets Maddie in a lift he’s smitten, and resolves to displace Maddie’s feline companions on her sofa. But he starts to fear that Maddie sees him only as ‘a handy stud with a fat wallet’.

Can Bea and Kurt find happiness again? Can Maddie and Colin risk falling in love?

A story about love, relationships and second chances, perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Jojo Moyes, and anyone who loved Bridget Jones’ Diary or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. If you enjoy novels with depth, heart and laugh-out-loud humour, you’ll love this razor-sharp romantic comedy like no other.

My Review…

How on earth does Bae Hudson juggle being a neuropsychologist on the brink of a breakthrough with being a wife, mum and friend? Well, I soon found that it isn’t easy for her as I read Not Having It All!

Bea is fraught and struggling. A serious career and research means she has to spend time at work to be seen as someone serious about her career. If she reduces her hours she could very easily be side-lined and her funding may disappear. Her husband also has a demanding job, often working away from home for periods. This time he is in Turkey because “he is the best man for the job”. With both of them in full time careers the housekeeping and looking after Fran, their daughter falls to Polish au pair Katie.

Along the way, I also met Madelaine, Colin, Nigel and Allie. They all have roles to play in one form or another. It seems they are also having some sort of crisis in their lives. This is at times a hilarious read as it includes such a cross-section of people. Whether they are having a midlife crisis, feeling guilty about working too much or feeling downright unappreciated, they all seem to be having problems of some sort. Life can be a pain sometimes as pressures easily mount, making mountains out of molehills and often just needed to be looked at from a different perspective or to have recognise the struggles of others. The author has taken everyday worries and wrapped them into a fabulous story that held my attention.

I liked the format or this book as it is told in journal entries, notes or emails from each of the respective characters. It felt that it added to the busy lives of those concerned. Yes, it is unusual but, it worked very well as I got to see different sides to each of the characters. It also meant that the story moved along at a good pace but also that it didn’t feel rushed.

I really enjoyed Not Having It All. I liked how it reflected today’s modern and fast world and also was upbeat and had a good level of humour that kept it from falling into a more serious read. I loved that I actually laughed out loud on several occasions.

Not Having it All is one I would Definitely Recommend.

Extract…

Emails between Bea and Allie

From: Bea Hudson (bhudson9@blueyonder.co.uk)

Sent: 12 June 2018 10.40pm 

To: Allie Loff (allie53@outlook.com)

Subject: Crisis at home 3

Hope Ray calmer by now?

Sorry to hear that my suggestion re gradual exposure didn’t work. Those emus sound nasty, it might be better to stay well away from now on.

Today’s crisis as follows:

I was trying to make Fran eat more than three spoonfuls of Rice Crispies and at the same time trying to find my laptop with the slides for the presentation I’ve cobbled together about the Phobia Group’s latest non-findings before rushing to catch a fast train to Birmingham.

Me: What are you playing at, Francesca? I’m in a hurry. I can’t wait here forever while you finish that. If you don’t hurry up, you’ll have to go to Little Lanes without your breakfast.

F: (banging her spoon on table) No!

Me: What do you mean, no?

F: I don’t like Little Lanes. I want to stay here!

Me: You can’t, I have to be at a conference in three hours.

F: No!

She picks up her beaker of orange juice and chucks it at me. I’m standing next to the table, three feet away, an easy target. The beaker bounces off my collarbone and rattles to the floor. A gush of cold liquid drenches my shirt.

I’m so shocked I can’t utter a word, let alone a shriek. Fran leaps up from her chair and runs out of the kitchen faster than I’ve ever seen her move. The juice seeps under my bra, down my stomach into a puddle at my feet. My white linen shirt is covered in several large, bright orange splodges. I pull off shirt and skirt and fling them in the sink, then have an urge to run upstairs after Fran and slap her.

How dare she do such a thing? Whatever happened to the smiling, affectionate little girl who used to jump onto my lap and hug me as we watched Mr Bean, or grab my hand and kiss it at the Waitrose checkout?

I lean on the sink, head in hands, not giving a toss that I’m in the kitchen with the blinds open wearing only a bra and knickers in full view of the neighbours. When I finally go upstairs, Fran is sitting on the floor playing with a headless Barbie.

Me: Why did you do that?

F: –

Me: Come on, tell me. I want to know.

F: I don’t know, Mummy.

Me: (yelling) How can you not know!

F: (looks at me in horror)

I take a deep breath, imagining a tropical beach and a gentle breeze cooling my bare skin.

Me: You must not throw things at people on bicycles – and you must not throw orange juice at Mummy. Especially you must not throw orange juice at Mummy! She loves you very much and tries to do what is best for you and Daddy. Sometimes what she does won’t make sense to you, but you must know that she is doing the best she can. Do you understand?

Fran: (looks at me as if I had thrown juice at her)

Me: I love you very much, Frannie. I’m not going to hurt you. But I’m not going to let you behave like that in my house. (That last bit is what Kurt says when he’s angry with her.) Don’t you dare do that again, or there’ll be no more trips to the beach.

I got out Fran’s picture book, made a cup of tea and took a shower. I couldn’t think straight, didn’t know what to do – I couldn’t face trying to get Fran in the car again after what happened last time. I was about to call Katie and ask her to come over early, then remembered her 10.30am hospital appointment (NHS, so no telling how long she’d be).

So I called Maddie. 

Maddie drove over (took less than an hour, so must have been at 90mph), told me I must go to the conference. She would stay and look after Fran, so I could call Katie and tell her she wasn’t needed this afternoon.

Thank heavens for Maddie! When I got back to Godalming this evening, Fran was a sweet little girl again, eating out of Mad’s hand – in both senses! They were sitting side by side on the sofa sharing a plate of bread with peanut butter. I’m not sure who was enjoying it most. Mad likes her food, that’s for sure. Actually, I was a bit taken aback to see them sitting so companionably together. Not jealous, exactly. Well, just a little.

Fran jumped up and wrapped her arms round me and said she was sorry she had been so horrible. I was touched, though I think Maddie put her up to saying it.

The three of us spent the evening together. Maddie cooked dinner and Fran showed me drawings she’d done. Mad had got her drawing deep sea fish from photos on the web, scary-looking creatures with enormous serrated snouts. I told her they were fabulous and she looked so pleased. She was a totally different child to the one I was with this morning – it’s so confusing.

Maybe she feels bad about throwing the juice. Or maybe it’s because Maddie is great with children. She has so many child-friendly skills that I lack. She talks to Fran differently to me, as if she’s a child herself. Yet she can be firm enough to get Fran to do what she wants, even helping to dry the dishes!

I sat in a daze, letting Mad take over, enjoying the peace – no fighting about how much ice cream Fran can have, how much TV she can watch or when she has to go to bed. And M’s such a wiz at practical things – on top of looking after Fran, she fixed the wonky gas ring, wound up the kitchen clock, put the damp remover thingies in the cupboards and swept away the bits of cobweb hanging from the hall ceiling that I keep forgetting to tell Katie about.

After we’d said goodnight to Fran, Maddie joked that I should be married to her instead of Kurt. I said yes, a wife would be much handier – Kurt does nothing around the house except watch TV, make a mess and demand food, back rubs and sexual favours (gross exaggeration, of course). We couldn’t stop laughing. It was almost as funny as years ago when the chemistry teacher at St Mary’s stopped in the corridor, blew her nose and farted (even louder than Dad used to after a helping of Mum’s stew).

Just at that moment, Kurt rang. I couldn’t speak so Mad answered, still chortling. She said I was busy, could he wait a minute? He said, ‘Please, I’d like to talk to my wife, is that too much to ask?’ and hung up.

He still hasn’t called back, which is just as well. He can stew in his own sour juice, imagining whatever he likes. By now he’s probably cooking up visions of Mad and I in bed together, getting up to no good 😨

Anyway, Maddie has offered to come over and look after Fran whenever I need her to. She loves the space and light here, she can paint out on the terrace and do her yoga in the living room. I might take her up on her offer next month, when preschool ends. Then (thank God) there’s only the summer to get through before Fran starts school full-time in September.

xx

About the Author…

A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, obtaining a Masters in Journalism (winning two awards) and covering topics from forced marriage to accidents in the mining industry. She isn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues in her novels, either: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her debut BLIND SIDE (a psychological mystery blended with a love story), domestic abuse and sexual exploitation in her second, THE GIRL IN HIS EYES.

Her third novel NOT HAVING IT ALL, a relationship comedy, is an excursion to the brighter side of life. A new edition was published in January 2021.

Ms Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications including Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat and Tears. Her poem ‘Lost Connection’ placed second in the Breakout Prose category of the Fish Lockdown Prize in 2020. In her spare time (?) she reads, walks and attempts twice-weekly yoga. She regularly cycles the punishing hills of north London and at the end of the day enjoys collapsing with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol in front of a TV crime drama.

Social Media LinksTwitter Facebook Website Instagram Amazon Author Page

GIVEAWAY –  A prize draw to celebrate the relaunch will be held at 6pm on 23 February on Jennie’s FB page  https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor (the giveaway post is pinned to the page). 

Check out the other stops on the Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

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