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In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away. His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets. And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will. He talks of them wistfully. His legacy, he calls them.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know each other. Yet. And they are all facing difficult changes. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed. Dean is a young man, burdened with unexpected responsibility, whose life is going nowhere. And Robyn wants to be a doctor, just like her father – a man she’s never met. But is her whole life built on an illusion?

Three people leading three very different lives. All lost. All looking for something. But when they slowly find their way into each other’s lives, everything starts to change

‘The Making of Us’ describes the coming together of Frenchman Daniel Blanchard’s children as he lies dying in a hospice in Bury St Edmunds. Daniel donated sperm to a fertility clinic in London many years ago, but never told anyone. Now, as he nears the end of his life, Daniel tells his secret to his friend Maggie and asks her do one thing for him before he dies: find out something about the children he fathered.

Twenty-nine year old Lydia is the eldest of Daniel’s progeny. Her life has changed inextricably from her troubled upbringing in a small Welsh town; nowadays she’s extremely rich and living in a beautiful house in London. But money can’t buy happiness, and Lydia is lonely and unfulfilled. However, thanks to a mysterious letter, she’s discovered that the angry, bitter man who raised her was not actually her father. Some further investigation brings the news that she has siblings and Lydia wonders whether getting in touch with them make her life more complete.

Next is Dean who’s at a low point in his life: he’s only twenty one, but his life is a mess, and when his girlfriend Sky dies, leaving him to look after new-born baby Isadora, he doesn’t think he’s up the challenge. Can the support of his newfound sisters give him the strength to sort himself out and become a good dad to his baby?

The youngest of the trio, Robyn, has always known that her father was a sperm donor. If anything she’s enjoyed the faint air of glamour that her French parentage lent her during her pampered Essex upbringing. She’s determined to become a doctor like her biological father, and is off to study medicine at university. But something doesn’t feel quite right as she starts this new chapter in her usually perfect life.

The characters were delightful, and their worries and feelings were completely believable. And, although the main protagonists are very different, and come from widely contrasting backgrounds, they do, ultimately, gel. Lisa Jewell uses alternating viewpoints incredibly well and it’s lovely to see the characters through their siblings’ eyes. I thought the concept of the trio coming together and tentatively trying to form a relationship was very original and made for a real page-turner. Naturally flawed, the characters were so lovable and vulnerable that I was moved to tears several times.

I adored all of Daniel’s children, and Dean in particular. His actions at the beginning of the novel made me think he’d be my least favourite of the three, but he was frustratingly captivating and brilliantly written: he’s 21, but acts much younger and he’s so infuriating that you almost want to prod him out of his apathy and force him to pull himself together. It’s wonderful to see how he comes out of his shell as the book progresses; a turning point being his support of Lydia on a trip to uncover the truth behind her mother’s untimely death.

This novel has everything: an intriguing plot, wonderful writing, great characters and the ability to draw out of the reader all sorts of emotions. It contains some extremely funny moments, often concerning Lydia and her crush on her personal trainer, as well as very moving episodes, especially those set at the hospice. Lisa Jewell’s works really seem to have taken a step up in recent years, and I think she can be now very firmly placed in the same league as authors such as David Nicholls and Rosy Thornton.

4 and a half stars

The Truth about Melody Browne – Lisa Jewell

When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past.

When I chose this book, I think I was expecting something else. My previous knowledge of Lisa Jewell was Ralph’s Party, a sweet romantic comedy about flatmates. Lisa Jewell has certainly grown up over the years and THE TRUTH ABOUT MELODY BROWNE proves it! This book is an emotional rollercoaster that really took me by surprise. The subject matter got extremely dark at times, and I am not afraid to say that I shed a tear or two more than once during this book, but overall I was left with what I think is an inspirational and overall uplifting tale about the family that you, and the life you live creates, as opposed to the one you were both into.

The format of the book and the way that the story unfolded was what I both loved and what I was confused by. Melody’s history is revealed to the reader via flashbacks told from Melody’s perspective as a child. This bought an endearing naivety to the description of some truly devastating events, however I was somewhat confused as to what Melody, as an adult was remembering for herself, and which flashbacks were for the reader alone. That being said, this didn’t distract me for too long as the story-telling and how the flashbacks were constructed kept me enthralled throughout.

The relationship between Melody and Ken was so beautiful. I loved that while others didn’t understand it, the two of them had this connection that was just so normal to the both of them. I also commend Lisa Jewell for retaining Melody’s innocence. This may seem strange if you haven’t yet read the book, but with everything that happened to her and her family, the story could have taken a more sinister path very easily and for me that would have felt a little predictable. Lisa took the story in a different direction and in doing so, she created a truly astonishing read that shocked me and uplifted me all in one.

I would most definitely recommend this book, in fact I already have 🙂

Great for fans of Ceceila Ahern.

What did you think of the book?

A big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog this week.I’m really enjoying it!

I finished Jane Costello’s MY SINGLE FRIEND yesterday – absolutely brilliant! I think it’s the first time I’ve cried during one of her books – the characterisation was just so spot on, you couldn’t help but become involved in the characters and their choice. Why are you not reviewing this title I hear you say? Well, it’s a tricky one as I work for the publishing house who publishes Jane Costello so it’s a bit of a conflict of interests. For now, I plan to not review books published by my place of work, but I will mention them from time to time especially if I particularly enjoyed the book. How does that sound? Or would you prefer me to simply steer clear of any work titles? Any and all feedback on this subject is hugely appreciated as I don’t want to step on any book blogger faux pas’ – look at me with my fancy faux pas – LOL!!

I’m now reading Lisa Jewell’s THE TRUTH ABOUT MELODY BROWNE and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of her books and I find a writing style easy to get sucked into. Give me a few more days and I should have a full review for you.

Also: this week, I’ll be posting a couple of book chat entries, including my March wishlist and my top 10 non-vampire YA books!! So keep your eyes peeled for those!

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My Single FriendBreaking DawnStill Thinking of YouBetrayedMarkedThe Truth About Melody Browne

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