Monday, 5 April 2021

Eternity Leave by Simon Kettlewell @SIMONKETTLEWELL #EternityLeave #BookReview



Dear Chloe, Emma, Ruby, and Ollie,

‘I am applying for the position you haven’t advertised, has no specific job description and no hope of fiscal reward. I am applying because I have this misguided belief that it will look like it does on the cover photo of ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’ where everyone appears relaxed and bright-eyed, not knackered, irascible or covered in snot.

Armed with a pristine copy of ‘The Complete Guide to Childcare’, ambitions to be the next literary giant and live off the grid, what could possibly go wrong?

‘Five minutes after Brigit’s maternity leave ended I realised the magnitude of my error. I was now the sole carer for two six-month old children who thought the hands smearing yoghurt over their faces belonged to somebody else, and a two-year old who walked for five steps and decided it wasn’t for her.’

I crashed into a world of mainly strong, resourceful, resilient women, a mountain of nappies to rival Kilimanjaro and a widening gap where my self-esteem used to reside.’

I am a man. I soon discovered this was not an excuse…’

Eternity Leave by Simon Kettlewell was published on 11 February 2021, my thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

I tend to begin any review of a book that is about being a parent with the disclaimer that I've never been a parent.  I have no children, but I do love books about people, and how our future generations are formed. 
It would be really easy to think that Eternity Leave is an autobiographical story as the author himself is a stay at home Dad. However, this is fiction, but I'm positive that Kettlewell has drawn on his own years of experience when writing this, and he's done it very well.

Our lead character (who has no name of his own, so I'll refer to him as 'him' or 'he') is a father of four. He's an aspiring novelist. His wife has a high powered, important, well paying job in the Health Service, it makes sense for him to be the stay at home parent, whilst she continues to work.

It is at times hilarious, it is also at times very poignant, written with such understanding, compassion and feeling. Whilst we women often shout about our second-class status and how we are looked down upon and miss out on chances; this book proves that a man, taking on a non-traditional role, especially within the family, can and does suffer the same treatment. The medical professionals who are scornful, the school mums who are not inclusive, he deals with them all. His 'bible' along the way comes in the form of 'The Complete Guide to Childcare', which, to be honest, is often more of a hindrance than a help!

It would be so easy to have made this story into an overly sweet and sentimental story that could grate. Instead, the author has written a book that is straight to the point, whilst still being funny, and also dealing with serious issues with style. 

I really enjoyed my visit to this unusual family, the Dad with no name is the star, for sure, and those children were very lucky indeed! Recommended by me.

Like the narrator of this story, Simon Kettlewell has also looked after four children for a very long time.

For the purpose of authenticity this book is inevitably shaped to some extent by this experience. Some bits have been extracted from the author's twisted imagination, but he is still too exhausted to remember which ones.

Simon lives in Devon with a variety of animals in a multi-coloured house where people come and go like passengers at Crewe station.

You can find him at ...


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