Monday 21 December 2015

My Everything by Katie Marsh

On the day Hannah is finally going to tell her husband she's leaving him, he has a stroke ..... and life changes in an instant.
Hannah is trapped. It's shocking - Tom's only 32. She knows she can't give up on him now and suddenly she has to put her plans on hold to care for the husband she was ready to walk away from. She's his entire world.
Tom can't walk, cut up his own food or go to work. But now he has the time and fresh perspective to re-evaluate his life, and he is determined to save his marriage.
Can he once again become the man his wife fell in love with, or has he left it too late? 

My Everything was published in paperback on 27 August 2015 by Hodder and is Katie Marsh's debut novel.

I have to admit that my copy of My Everything has been sitting on the 'to be read' pile for some months now. I love the cover, I love the blurb. I was intrigued and had heard nothing but great things about it, but the premise touched a couple of raw nerves for me. Finally, last week, I picked it up, took a deep breath and began to read ..... and read ..... and read.  I read at every available moment, I really didn't want to stop reading. I was absolutely swamped by the story; by the characters, and yes, by the premise that scared me so much at the beginning.

There are two themes that run through My Everything. First we have an unhappy young wife; Hannah and Tom have only been married for four years, but things are not going well. The Tom that Hannah fell in love with has disappeared. The Tom that she shares her life with these days is angry, spiteful, tired, cruel and seems uninterested in her. She's made the decision to leave him, and she is going to tell him today.

Then we have the second theme, the thing that happens to Tom on the morning that Hannah was going to announce that their marriage was over. That she was moving on, taking a job on the other side of the world. Finished, over, the end.

Tom has a stroke. Thirty two year old Tom, the football player, the successful and seemingly healthy young lawyer lays on the bedroom floor. Unable to move, unable to form his words, paralysed. Hannah is terrified. She is consumed by guilt, but also by loathing and fear. She knows that she cannot leave him now. She abandons her plans and vows to stay with Tom, to see him through this awful time. She puts her own needs to the back of her mind and appears to everyone as the worried and dutiful wife.

Katie Marsh is a hugely talented new author. My Everything is cleverly constructed; relaying the story of Tom's illness and his slow recovery and interspersed with snippets from Tom and Hannah's earlier years. Each alternative chapter features an item from their past; a lighter, a ticket to a football match, an order of service. Each item is a chapter in Tom and Hannah's romance and the reader learns about their love, their closeness. We discover how they laughed together and cried together, how they married and then how they began to fall apart.

Tom and Hannah are fabulous characters, I loved both of them, despite their faults and their annoyances, for me, this just made them more lovable, more real and more believable. The supporting cast of characters are wonderful, and Tom's younger sister Julie almost steals the whole show from Tom and Hannah. Her teenage angst and her terrible decisions are a cover for her inner vulnerability and sadness and although there are times that the reader despairs at her actions, she's really not difficult to love.

My Everything is a story of how two people who are madly in love can drift apart until the gap seems so wide that it is almost impossible to imagine a future together. It is a story that could be devastating, but is in fact, hugely inspiring, proving love and forgiveness can overcome the most difficult of situations.

Funny, warm, skilfully written and beautifully observed, My Everything is a joy to read. A fabulous debut.

Katie Marsh lives in south-west London with her husband and daughter. As well as writing novels she has a career in healthcare, and My Everything was inspired by the bravery of the patients she met while working in stroke services.

Katie loves strong coffee, stealing her husband's toast and the feel of a blank page, and is frequently to be found in local parks pretending to be more grown up than her daughter.

For more information about Katie, check out her website
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @marshisms 


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