Friday 19 September 2014

Away From You by Kay Langdale

When Monica is offered a three-month placement in LA, she knows that for the sake of her career she must accept it - even though it means leaving behind nine-year-old Ruby, toddler Luca and her husband Daniel.
She hires Ursula as a housekeeper and nanny during her absence, although the older woman is oddly reluctant to agree to a childcare position. What is the dark secret in Ursula's past, which has left her so closed-off and reserved? Will her growing attachment to Ruby bring it to the surface? And will Monica regret leaving the children in her care?

Away From You by Kay Langdale was published on 11 September 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton.

I discovered Kay Langdale's writing back in November 2011 when I read and reviewed her wonderful novel Her Giant Octopus Moment. That is a story that has stayed with me so I was delighted to get the chance to read and review her latest book; Away From You.

The story opens as Monica considers her future. She loves her husband and children dearly. Daniel, her husband is a surgeon, her two children; Ruby and Luca are bright and entertaining and keep her busy. However, she desperately misses the world of work, the opportunity to be someone other than a wife and a mother, the chance to create something that is hers.

She knows she needs to accept the offer of three months' work in LA, She knows that Daniel will support her and that the children will be fine, but she battles with that age-old guilt trip that mothers all over the world have to deal with. Work or home?

The decision is made, Monica will go and after a few difficult interviews she finds Ursula. Ursula will be housekeeper and nanny whilst she is away. Despite the fact that Ursula was strangely reticent about the child care aspect of the job, she is persuaded to take it on. Monica flys to LA and Ursula takes up post.

Away From You then becomes Ursula's story. Unlike Monica, she's a difficult character to warm to, she's cold and hesitant, but her back story is slowly revealed quite cleverly by the author and the reader is introduced to Ursula's past. Her past is also her present and is likely to be her future.

That is far as I will go in terms of talking about the plot and the hidden secrets within it, to say much more would spoil the experience for future readers, and those who have already read the book will know exactly what I am referring to.

I feel that Kay Langdale's writing has grown and matured so much, I'm not saying that this is a better book than Her Giant Octopus Moment, but that she has tackled an emotive and extremely challenging issue with sensitivity and apparent ease. She continues to create characters that the reader will come to love and admire, especially her younger characters, and like Scout in her previous novel, Ruby is a pure delight. Nine years old, but perceptive and bright, yet totally believable. Thank goodness too, for Daniel, a father and husband with empathy, understanding and humour, much needed when compared the darker father figure who features prominently in the story.

A story of grief and redemption and consequences. A novel that raises questions but also has hope at its heart.

Beautifully written, tender and true with characters who will restore the faith of the reader.

My thanks to the publisher who provided my review copy of Away From You via Bookbridgr.

My friend Leah, who blogs at Reflections of a Reader has also read and enjoyed Away From You, visit her blog to read her review.

Kay Langdale was born in Coventry into a family of four children, and both her parents were
teachers. She did her first degree, reading English Literature, at London University, and her second at Oxford University, where she wrote a doctorate on Samuel Beckett's prose fiction. She was a lecturer in twentieth century literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford before beginning work at a brand consultancy as a concept writer and account handler. She worked mostly on Unilever brands, like Persil, Cif and Domestos, and spent many hours watching women in focus groups discussing their lives, their endless juggling, and the brands and products which they felt both best served and reflected them. Her main lesson was that there is nothing simple about most of what goes into a supermarket trolley.

For more information about the author and her books visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @kaylangdale

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