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There was a time when life was almost perfect for Rachel - married to Andrew with a much loved son, Jono, and a much wanted baby on the way. That was until a routine doctor's visit led to the discovery that the baby was dead inside her and all Rachel's dreams were shattered. Ten years on she still has not come to terms with her loss and her relationship with Andrew and Jono are disintegrating day by day. Seeped in misery and feeling that her life has little point, Rachel focuses her attention elsewhere with devastating effects.
Rachel Morgan feels that she does not fit in anywhere. Certainly not with all of the other mums at her son Jono's posh school. Certainly not with all the happy jolly families on the beaches when they are on holiday. And most of all, she no longer feels that she fits in with her own little family. Nothing ever feels right and she continually feels isolated on the outside looking in. Of course, these feelings lead to an increasing sense of dissatisfaction which she can only deal with by dwelling on what she perceives as her happier past.
Rachel starts obsessing about an old friend from her school days who tragically died at the age of fifteen. Her memories are evoked further when she thinks that she spots the friend's mother in a local café. Unfortunately, the mother, still wrapped up in her own grief and denial, does not want to acknowledge the past. Undeterred though, Rachel then decides to track down her friend's brother, Simon. He, in contrast, is desperate to talk about his lost sister and through meeting with him, Rachel starts to feel like another person. However, one thing leads to an another and the pair embark on an affair that at first is thrilling and exciting. Can it last though? And what of Andrew and Jono? What about their feelings too?
I really did enjoy this book even though I found it a bit slow to start with. It tended to ramble a little, although in an interesting way, as the gaps were filled in about Rachel's sad past. However, the pace in the second half of the book really quickens, and by the end I hardly wanted to put it down as I could not wait to find out how it all turned out in the end. I wouldn't really call it a happy book especially as the main character is so miserable for the majority of the book. However, I felt that the entire book presented an astute observation of human behaviour and I found Rachel's sense of isolation very moving.
I like the fact that the book was written in the first person as it meant that the reader got to know and understand Rachel really well. You might think that she might be a bit annoying as she is absorbed by so much self-pity. I actually found her to be a most likeable and empathetic character who I warmed to from the very first moments. It was very easy to understand her motivation for the actions that she takes especially considering all of the pain she has previously experienced. But what price will she have to pay for a few snatched moments of happiness?
Although on the back cover, the book is described as a psychological drama, I think of it more as a modern day tragedy. This story is a great exploration of how a marriage can crumble and communication can be lost, if couples are not open with each other about their feelings. In Andrew's attempts to protect Rachel from the impact of losing the baby, by never mentioning her, he unwittingly causes what appears to be irreparable damage to their relationship. I think that might be a salutary lesson for many readers.
'The Child Inside' is currently available in paperback in amazon for £4.87 (April 2012).
This review has previously appeared under my name at www.thebookbag.co.uk