Tuesday 7 January 2014

Finding Mother by Anne Allen & Interview with the Author

Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love…  
Who is she really? Nicole is about to find out as she searches for her real mother; the woman who gave her away at birth. With her marriage in tatters, she sets out from England: travelling to Spain, Jersey and Guernsey before the extraordinary story of her real family is finally revealed.  
Nicole becomes an unwitting catalyst for change in the family. Two women are forced to reveal long-buried secrets. One going back as far as the Second World War. Lives are transformed as choices have to be made and the past laid to rest… 

Successful TV journalist Nicole seems to have it all, from the outside her marriage to Tom appears to be perfect.  They are both doing well in their careers, their house is beautiful, they have the world at their feet.  When Nicole discovers evidence that Tom has cheated on her yet again she makes a decision that will alter her life.

Nicole tells Tom that their marriage is finally over, she can't take any more of his cheating and his lies. She flees to Spain to visit her parents in their retirement villa, and to decide what she is going to do next.

Nicole was adopted as a baby, her adoptive parents gave her a loving home and she wanted for nothing, she was a happy child.  Nicole wonders just who she really is, and whether her real parentage has any bearing on her life today.  With her parents' blessing she decides that it is time to return to the Channel Islands to  find out more about her background.

Jersey and Guernsey are small islands made up of close-knit communities, and it is not long before Nicole has the details of her birth mother.  Events move quickly and before she knows it, she has discovered not just her birth mother, but a whole set of relatives. Her new family, however, is not very straight forward and Nicole's reappearance rakes up old secrets, betrayals, lies and heartache that goes back many years.

Anne Allen's writing is warm and appealing.  Her characters are well rounded, and the plot moves very quickly.  For me, the most enjoyable part of this novel was the Channel Islands.  Life, culture and the beauty of the surroundings are drawn so well.  The reader really begins to feel as though they too are travelling the roads of Guernsey, visiting the bays and drinking in the assorted bars and coffee shops.  Anne Allen brings these places to life.

Finding Mother is a novel that deals with sensitive issues very well.  The heartbreak of giving away a much-loved baby, the despair of losing a cherished lover and the difficulties of living in a very close community are handled very well.

I enjoyed the novel very much.  My one criticism is that the story is a little too well tied up for me, things seem to fall into place for Nicole quite effortlessly, personally I'd have liked a little more angst and drama - but that's just my opinion!

Finding Mother was published in paperback on 21 November 2013.

Anne Allen, the author of Finding Mother has kindly visited Random Things today and has answered a few questions for us.  I'd like to say a huge thanks to Anne for taking the time to talk to me, and welcome to Random Things Through My Letterbox. 

For more information about Anne and her novels, visit her website www.anneallen.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @AnneAllen21

Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously?  Is there an author out there who doesn't read their reviews?! Particularly for a new author or book, it's the confirmation – or otherwise! - that your book was found to be worth reading by someone you don't know. It's hard not to take them seriously, particularly if the review is very critical. Oddly enough, poor reviews stick with you much longer than good ones. I've hit myself over the head a few times after reading the odd negative review. However, one reviewer of my first novel, Dangerous Waters, listed a few things she didn't like about it, but still ended up saying that in spite of her comments she enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars! Perhaps I should stop reading them and save myself some angst J

How long does it take to write a novel?    Depends how you measure the process. I took six months to write the first draft of Dangerous Waters, but then several years, on and off, re-writing and editing. I managed to speed up with my second, Finding Mother; completing the various edits and re-writes within a year. I'm now writing the third, Guernsey Retreat, which I plan to publish in 2014; meaning a further increase in writing speed. I'm never ceased to be amazed that some writers can produce several books a year. I wonder when they sleep!

Do you have any writing rituals?   Until a few months ago I would always write in longhand before typing up what I'd written. But then I had problems with arthritis in my thumb and had to lessen the impact on my hand and now type from the beginning. I always found it easier to let my thoughts flow when writing with a pen so still plan the novel and write character bio's by hand. The advantage of using a pen and paper is that you can write anywhere and I love sitting outside on a warm, sunny day with a pen and pad.
I do like to 'clear my desk', so to speak, before settling down to write. If I have any outstanding chores or emails I find it difficult to concentrate until they are out of the way. Mind you, I can quite happily write while a pile of ironing awaits J

What was your favourite childhood book?  A difficult one! I loved reading so much as a child that I devoured several a week from the town library. I do remember enjoying the Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton, desperately wanting to go off to boarding school for the adventures Blyton convinced me would be mine. Coming from a working-class family, it wasn't an option!

Name one book that made you laugh?   'Driving Over Lemons' by Chris Stewart. It's the true story of an expat family who buy a farm in a remote part of southern Spain. I'd recently moved to Spain myself at the time and could really relate to it. And Chris's story was extremely funny as he described various mishaps that overtook the family.

Name one book that made you cry?   'One Day' by David Nichol. I hated the ending!

Which fictional character would you like to meet?  Mr D'Arcy 

Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?   You mean apart from one of mine?! Probably 'Quincunx' by Charles Palliser. It's a Dickens/Trollope kind of book, brimming with fascinating characters and convoluted plots, displaying more than a passing nod to 'Bleak House'.

Are you inspired by any particular author or book?   Not one author, no.  But I think several writers have inspired me, including Erica James, Katie Fforde, Maeve Binchy and Mary Higgins Clark.

What is your guilty pleasure read?   A light-hearted Georgian romance from Georgette Heyer. Bliss!

Who are your favourite authors?  Apart from those mentioned above, I enjoy books by Robert Goddard, C J Sansom and Robert Harris.

What book have you re-read?  One or two by Georgette Heyer!

What book have you given up on?  There's been a few. I did once start reading 'A Brief History of Time' by Stephen Hawking but…!

Many thanks Anne!


  1. Thanks, Anne, for featuring Finding Mother and myself on your lovely blog. If any of your readers would like to ask me a question, I'd be happy to answer them.
    Best wishes

  2. Well this one certainly caught my eye. How am I supposed to resist adding this to my TBR when it features a child seeking their roots and visiting Jersey which is where I live! Finding Mother sounds my sort of read despite the added attraction of the location. Love the interview too.