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The Stepmother - Carrie Adams

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Carrie Adams / Paperback / 416 Pages / Book is published 2008-04-17 by Headline Review

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    7 Reviews
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      13.02.2012 21:45
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      A novel that touches on some deeper things in life very sensitively

      The Stepmother by Carrie Adams

      ISBN 978-0-7553-2957-1

      This is another of the books left here by my daughter,. I am trying to downsize and am busy bookcrossing quite a few each week but this caught my eye ( being a step-mother myself) so I thought I'd give it a try.

      This is the second novel by the author, the first being 'The Godmother' who is the same person as becomes the 'The Stepmother' in this novel. "The Godmother" is Tessa King's story before this and leads up to where she meets her new man, James. Really that should be read before this book but that in no way spoiled my understanding or enjoyment of this book. However if you have read neither it may be an idea to start with the first and Therefore my advice would be to try and read 'The Godmother' first as it's clear that "The Stepmother" is meant to follow on from it

      I have to say the pink cover and design did lead me to think this would be a light read in the 'cjick lit' genre so I wasn't expecting much. It is indeed an easy read but I did get joked into the story and found the characters to be pretty real, neither 'evil' nor 'goodie goodie'. They were believable and I did find myself sympathising with both at different times during the book.

      THE AUTHOR
      This is her second novel and prior to writing Carrie Adams was a high flying business women in the world of oil. Obviously she has used characteristics in her previous life to create her characters as they are very sympathetic and believable.

      THE STORY
      This is one of those stories told by two of the main characters, in this case, the mother and the stepmother.

      The mother is Bea. She has dedicated her life to bringing up her three girls and given up a promising career to do this. She is divorced and is now able to talk politely to her ex husband, Jimmy, and is even becoming rather fond of him again. Together they were known as JimBean.

      The Stepmother is Tessa King who has recently met James ( Jimmy) and has an exciting and demanding job in a recording studio and dresses to suit the job. She is not a marriage wrecker as James/Jimmy had been divorced for some time when they met.

      We flip back and fro as each chapter takes the reader a little further into the story. We obviously see the story move on through the two different characters and even sometimes see the same event through different eyes. It is never easy when two families merge or one family gets a step mother. There is always a fear that the children will be drawn away from or towards the other female in the triangle. Bea fears that her girls will find Tessa younger and more' hip' than her and she will lose their love. Tessa meanwhile thinks that Bea is 'mother wonderful' and strives to keep up with her cake making and freshly washes clothes regime.

      During the story we are taken through a few major family events and through these we meet James/Jimmy's family and therefore the girl' extended family members. These characters also interact with both the main female characters and so we learn a little more about each.

      There are times when either one or other of the main characters go through a particularly emotional time. Bea's eldest daughter who is not an easy person to get on with starts her period while with Tessa and she deals with this perfectly bringing her a bit closer to Amber. Meanwhile Amber is struggling to cover up for her mother Bea's collapse mentally.

      As the story progresses we see that Bea is really struggling and reading between the lines she has a breakdown which manifests itself in some pretty horrendous way that Amber is left trying to cover up from the world.

      It is hard to say too much as I don't want to give away too much of the story as there are so many ups and downs and minor problems that become more major because of the way character's react to the event.

      THE CHARACTERS

      AS I said before I found the characters to be very sympathetic and believable. There are times when I really felt for Bea and her pain at sharing her children, already lost her husband ( through her choice) and now she could lose her children. She is overweight and feeling at the lowest ebb possible. She comfort eats and tries to be sick but even fails at that.

      Bea gave up a successful career to support her husband and bring up her children. James was struggling to find his feet on the career ladder and was also not great at being supportive when the second and third children were born but she held the family together at the expense of her own stability; hence the divorce. Sadly she now sees she made a mistake and falls back inm love with James just as her is about to tell her that he has met Tessa.

      She's a likeable character and you can't help but feel for her. At times I wanted to give her a good shake but once you are down the slippery slope of depression it only takes a small thing to tip the slope and make it steeper and being told James has met someone new is not a small thing. She has a major mental collapse and this requires James to be more supportive of her which he is but he fails to actually see how bad she really is. I think anyone who has suffered any form of depression will feel sympathy for Bea as she sets out on the road to self destruction.



      Tessa King is almost the person Bea was before children she is a successful lawyer for a record company and seems to be everything that Bea isn't. She has no children but is a very good godmother to several children. She finds it hard to understand how close James is to his eldest daughter. She worries about how the girls feel about her and if she will ever mange to have a relationship with them.

      Both women have worries over the situation and we see each of them try to come to terms with the problems that arise. Initially I felt that I would not like Tess, she was slim, attractive and successful but we do get to know her and see that she is as insecure as Bea and has a lot to live up to in her mind.

      Although I am a stepmother of three children I already had my own two children and my problems came from wanting the best for my children and slightly resenting the fact that their mother only had her own children while I had hers half the week as well as mine all week. I resented her sticking her nose in how we organised our household and phoning to speak to then within ten minutes of them coming back to us. I was not that worried about them accepting me as I had my own children. As it happens they did and we all get on fine but we had a few challenging times over the years.

      Tessa wanted the children to like her and accept her because it was important to James. James it seems was totally oblivious to the fact that he was totally changing Tessa's life and expecting her to cook and wash for the girls and him while he continued his life in his own sweet way.

      MY OPNION
      I think the author did an excellent job of making both these characters so vulnerable and human. I liked this book far more than I thought I might after looking at the pink girly front cover. The blurb on the back thankfully does not give away anything of the story but just sets the scene.

      This is not just a novel about relationships it deals with some pretty serious issues which are handled quite sensitively. Firstly the theme of depression and mental illness and its off shoots of binge eating, bulimia and alcoholism. We also see divorce and what often happens after wards second wives and combining families. Another aspect of families is also touched on and that is that of aging parents and indeed a mother with MS and how much stress that puts on the family and children or child if they are an only child.

      I really felt that the author dealt with all these things with sensitivity and a sense of realism; she does not gloss over these problems. She shows the problems that these problems such as ill parents can cause with your boss and taking time off from work. She touches on the difficulty of juggling a successful career whilst also being a carer of either children or aging/ill parents.

      The novel takes us over a period of time when all the characters are going through major emotional change. Even James seems to come out of the experience a better person. It needed someone to actually tell him to wake up and smell the smoke before he could actually see the fire burning but in the end he becomes more aware of the situation he has found himself in with all his women - ex wife, new wife to be and three daughters who all want a part of him.

      This novel had me really desperate to find out what happens to the characters and how things were going to work out for them all. It isn't just a happily ever after chicklit as there are some pretty sad things that happen in the story as well as some pretty shocking things. Some of the characters needed a big hug while others needed to open their eyes and see what was happening around them rather than behaving like an ostrich.

      It is chick lit but it does have a deeper side to it. There are lots of things that really make you think, 'what would I do faced with that situation?' I have to admit that I don't think I would be as nice as Tessa was at times. I think I would have 'lost it' way before she did. And done a lot more ranting about the situation and not just tried to do more and more.

      I also don't think I would have been able to 'cover; my feelings like Bea did when told about Tessa. Maybe that's why she fell into the depression, she was bottling yp her feelings rather than shouting out how she felt.

      I did like the way the author was able to let us see the story from two view points and still managed to make both characters sympathetic.

      The last chapter is a sort of 'and a few months later' so that we can see a bit into the future how things were going to pan out. The book started with a school concert and this chapter is also at the children's school concert but we have one extra character there. It sort of spells out the future but I do wonder of there will be a third in the series dealing with Bea meeting someone and all that that will entail for the family once again; 'The Stepfather'.


      Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
      ©Catsholiday

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        27.01.2010 17:03
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        A very enjoyable read

        Being a stepmother myself (albeit a reasonably happy one) I was drawn to The Stepmother by Carrie Adams as I expected it would deal with this rather tricky aspect of modern family life. I had not read anything else by this author but the blurb looked promising and I have to say, having read the book, that I was not at all disappointed. In fact this was a fantastic read and I found it quite hard to put down.

        The story is told from two women's point of view. Firstly there was Bea. She used to be married to Jimmy but they have been divorced four years and she virtually has sole charge of their three daughters although Jimmy has them every weekend. She has managed to stay friends with Jimmy and there are times when she wonders whether she should get back with him. That is until she learns about Tessa...

        Tessa is Jimmy's girlfriend and soon to be wife. She knows that taking on three stepdaughters is going to be difficult but with Jimmy by her side she is sure she will cope. Unfortunately she does not reckon on so much hostility from Amber, the eldest daughter, and how carefully she will have to tread around all of them. And then there is Bea to live up to - Bea who sounds like the perfect wife and mother or was she?

        In this brilliant book we follow the lives of both these women as they deal with everything that the situation has to throw at them. Unsurprisingly, there are times when they do not cope as well as others. What they don't realise though, is how much each woman needs to rely on the other's support!

        I found this book totally absorbing from the very start. Both of the two women were very sympathetic characters and although you might have expected to come down on the side of one of them and not the other, I couldn't help warming to both and hoping that it turned out well for both of them. Unfortunately, as ultimately they both wanted the same man, this was hardly likely to be the outcome.

        I thought that the book really explored the intricacies of modern family life very well. It demonstrates what a tricky situation a stepmother can find herself in - a sort of semi parenting role where you seem to work very hard but have to wait a long time for the rewards. Tessa feels frustration, loneliness, despair and exhaustion but she never gives up on the three girls. Being a step mum myself I could really identify with her and about half way through the book I did remark to my husband that I felt that I had 'been there, done that, got the t-shirt!' Luckily he did see the funny side! On the other hand, Bea can't help feeling incredibly jealous of Tessa and also feels very alone when her daughters are with her new family.

        As I said before, the book is written from both women's point of view. This is done through a few chapters being written 'by Bea' and then a few 'by Tessa'. As they are all written in the first person with no heading to indicate who is telling the story now, it might have been a bit confusing, but it actually wasn't. Within a couple of sentences I was able to tell that the narrator had changed and I found it very easy to tune into the new storyteller.

        The Stepmother actually follows on from another book by Carrie Adams called The Godmother. I had not read this other book and it did not seem to matter although as the story progressed I did sense that she might have been referring to some events that I might have known about had I read the other book first. These references did pique my interest and I will look out for The Godmother, but I hope that not having read them in sequence what spoil it to much.

        Anyway, back to The Godmother which I absolutely loved. It was a fantastic read from start to finish and had the ability to make me laugh or cry in equal measures. It was a very moving and heartfelt read.

        The paperback is currently available on Amazon for £5.49.

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          26.08.2009 14:29
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          A great book for the plane or holiday.

          The Stepmother:
          Written by Carrie Adams

          PLOT:
          Bea and Jimmy split up 4 years ago, and divorced 2 years ago, after a long but stressful marriage, and 3 children, there was lots of misunderstanding during their breakup and neither of them quite know what happened seeing as they never spoke about it. But now, they're still on good terms, and get on better than they did when they were married. Jimmy has his girls every other weekend and Wednesdays meaning Bea gets time to herself, something she never had when she was married! But, their relationship is friendship ONLY. Or is it. Bea has started to feel something for Jimmy which she hadn't felt for a long time during their marriage, and begins to wonder if leaving him had been the best decision she had ever made. She starts dressing up when he came round, persuading him to stay for one more drink, and he seems happier with her too, and was that...flirting!?

          But just as Bea thinks she is onto something along comes Tessa King, Jimmy's new girlfriend, soon to be fiancee. Bea is devastated, she wanted her family back together, not just for her, but for her daughters Amber, Lulu and Maddy as well.
          But Jimmy is head over heels in love with Tessa, all she has to do, is make the kids love her just as much as he does. But that'snot easy when you have a stroppy teenager going by the name of Amber clinging to her daddy's arm at every second and trying to ruin things. The youngsters were easy (5 hours of Guess Who! sorted that one), but Amber is a tougher nut to crack. When a 14 year old girl is thrown into the deep end, seeing first hand the effects Tessa and Jimmy's relationship is having on her mother, she doesn't want her upset, and Tessa King is making her do the things she is doing.

          But, with Bea discovering herself, why she did what she did, and wanting to turn her life back around to how she was before kids, before marriage broke her down. And Tessa becoming more and more jealous of a 14 year old girls relationship with her father. The two women find themselves in a battle for the man they both want, and both need. But the question is, who'll get him!

          Characters:
          Bea- I connected with Bea straight away, I don't know why as we have nothing in common, I have never had kids, I have never had a marriage break down, I have never been though her problems. But when I opened the book and read her words, I liked her straight away. And I was routing for her all through the book. Yes she has her problems, but don't we all, and when she sorts these problems out, she becomes even more likeable as a character. She is always doing everything for other people, but never for herself. Things never go right for her, and she is always expected to be superwoman and have all the answers. I felt for Bea when things got bad, and cheered her on when they got good again.
          Tessa: I'm sorry to say, I hated this character. I suppose in this kind of book, you will chose a side to go for, and in my case, I chose Bea, I didn't like Tessa one bit. I found her words petty, I thought what she said about her step children appalling. The fact a woman nearing 40 would get jealous of a 14 year old child going to get coffee with her father, and been jealous of the way she looks in a dress. It's petty and ridiculous. And she realls plays up to the part of eveil stepmother in the first bit of the book. But even when her story gets deeper, and we're all supposed to be feeling sorry for her, I still don't like her. She still has a snotty edge to her, she is jealous and petty and needs to grow up. You wouldn't know who was the 14 year old in the book, Amber or Tessa. Yes Amber is a stirring little madam, but she is a child. I just found Tessa too un-understanding if that makes sense! She didn't seem to understand that James (Jimmy) only saw his children of a weekend every two weeks. And she wanted him all to herself all of the time, she never gave them space to be alone. My hatred of her started at the beginning of the book, who in their right mind, the day they announce that they're an item to 14, 8 and 7 year old children, has a little sleepover in daddys bed. Tessa did, then was surprised when she was met by hostility the next morning.

          My Opinion of the book itself:
          The book is split up into chapters, which are narrated by Bea and Tessa, so you get the two womens opinions of what is going on. The book is a real page turner. At 299 pages long, I had almost finished the book within one night, just a quick top up the next night and I had finished reading The stepmother. I think each person will feel differently about the characters, some will feel the opposite of me, hate Bea and love Tessa. Some will be objective and not take sides. But whatever your opinion of the characters, whoever you like, or dislike, you'll love the book! By no means does my hatred of the character Tessa stop the book been enjoyable, in fact it made it even better to me, as I found I was even more excited about what would happen in the end and who would come out on top.

          The book has some amazing sub plots as well as the main plot and covers alot of aspects which comes as a shock and surprise to the reader, the book covers a multitude of points: marriage, divorce, death, birth, depression, adoption, alcoholism, illness, teens, growing up, abortion, adoption, infidelity as well as the main plotline of re-marriage. All of the subplots come as a shock and suprise to the reader, and even though you know they're going to happen, they still shock you!

          The book is a great quick read, and as I said a real page turner. You literally won't want to put it down! I know thats one of the biggest cliches in reading history, but with this book it's true. You just can't wait to find out what happens in the end!

          It's a great book for a plane journey or for the beach, but I wouldn't do what I did and have it as a bedtime book as I found I was up until 5am reading it as I didn't want to put it down!

          The Stepmother is chick lit with a twist, it has real emotion and real problems which are faced by people everyday. A fantastic book, which will be loved by all chick lit readers, but not the same story you've read a hundred times before!

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          21.04.2009 00:17
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          Two women love one man - whose side will you take?

          The stepmother is the sequel to Carrie Adams' The Godmother which I wanted to review first but after suggesting it weeks ago unfortunately it is still 'in progress'. So whilst still fresh in mind Ive decided to get reviewing.

          Carrie Adams is married to theatre producer Adam Spiegel, who is responsible for putting Dirty Dancing on the London stage. They have two young daughters and live in LOndon.
          The Godmother was published in 2006 and the sequel The Stepmother in 2008. Although there are references to 'The Godmother' in her sequel Id say that you could read it also in its own right.

          The novel is available in paperback from amazon for £5.49. Its 20 chapters over 400 pages, definately a chick lit, definately an easy read for the hoildays.

          Bea has 3 girls and is in love with their father ... only problem is she left him some time ago. Realising her mistake she decides that she should tell him, afterall hes been in such a good mood lately. Little does she know that Jimmys mood is down to the fact that hes finally put Bea behind him and is now in love with Tessa.

          As the reader we are firstly introduced to Bea and actually instantly like the devoted mother. Then we meet Jimmy and funnily enough hes a really likeable character too. THey have remained amicable and its strange to understand why they have split up at all as its evident throughout that they still love eachother.
          At this point Id quite like to hate Tessa as the woman who has seemingly come between this couple and split this happy family but alas although scared at the thought of becoming a stepmother to three girls her love for 'James' is blatant.
          It was far too easy to become totally engrossed in these characters and see each persons point of view.
          Bea is scared that after loosing her husband she will loose her children too, turning to diet and drink shes on a fast spiral of self destruction which is all witnessed but covered for by her eldest daughter.
          Tessa is worried that the children will always see her as the enemy,particulary the eldset who seems to be daddys favourite. It is difficult for her not to be jealous of their relationship. All the while she feels she needs to prove herself to James, the girls and indeed all of James' family who are still good friends with Bea.JUst how much baggage is to much baggage?
          Without wanting to give too much away I will say that the story is totally believable.
          I like the way that each different chapter is seemingly written by a different character and you get their point of view and interpretation of events. Its not all happily ever after - there are many ups and downs that they must all face to get there, a real emotional roller coaster.
          'Not all exes are bitter. Not all stepmothers are wicked.But hell, you can understand how they get that way.'

          I would recommend this book to any chick-lit fan but if possible its definately worth reading The Godmother first.
          Ive become a fan of Carrie Adams over these two past novels.
          I like her style of writing, interesting, informative and easy to read. We really are allowed inside the characters thoughts and in both novels she touches on real issues that could effect us in everyday life.
          Cant wait for her next novel.

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            23.02.2009 15:19
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            a great chick lit read

            After reading a review of this book on here, I knew I was going to have to read it myself. Being an avid reader of all things chick lit, the concept of the novel wasn't unfamiliar, so I was intrigued to see how it was going to be written differently to all the other novels that include step parents and extended families.
            In the stepmother, you have one man in the middle of two women with a spattering of children thrown in for good measure.
            Jimmy was married to Bea for ten years and has been divorced for the last four years. They are still very good friends and also have three children together. Neither one has ever met anyone else until now, when Tessa enters the story.
            Will she be seen as the wicked stepmother? Will she cope with being a stepmother when she has no children of her own? Will both Tessa and Bea realise that the other isn't the wicked witch of the east, nor is she more beautiful than what they see in the mirror on a daily basis.

            All of those questions and more will pop up through the book as we meet both Tessa and Bea, and read the story from the first person point of view through Tessa and Bea.
            By reading from a woman's perspective I think the man is always going to be both protected and given a rough deal. Both women love him in their own way and want to protect him, but both women also get frustrated with him for very similar reasons.

            We mustn't forget the children in the middle of all of this. One a teenager and the other two smaller children, all girls who love their Daddy and who loves his girls equally as much.
            I have never been in a stepmother situation but have friends who have. Children are easily confused and also can work situations to their own advantage when they feel the need. This story covers all of the above and Carrie Adams does a great job at portraying what the children go through at their differing ages, and how they show different emotions and react to situations.

            Jimmy is described as a loving Dad, but one who wants the glory with his children, and doesn't like dealing with the problems. Bea has always been the strong parent and person but surely no-one can be strong all the time.
            Tessa comes across as an independent career woman who has never had children, but has always wanted them. She finds herself having to adapt in a big way to accommodate children into her life as well as learning how to interact with them.

            The plot follows a few months with a lot happening in both Tessa and Bea's lives. They both go through a lot of emotional turmoil during the book, and sometimes I wondered if it was too much to happen in one novel, but it seemed to work ok in the end and everything knitted together well at the end.
            I found the storyline difficult to follow at the beginning as when the chapters changed from reading through Bea to Tessa, I didn't catch it on the first sentence and found myself having to re read a couple of paragraphs to make sure I was in the correct character frame.

            Overall this book has a lot going for it, and I went through a lot of emotions reading it. The ending made me cry for more than one reason, and it ended completely different to how I thought it was going to so well done to Adams for keeping up the suspense right through the book.

            Published: 2008
            Price: £5.59 (Amazon)
            ISBN: 978-0755329571

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              30.10.2008 09:10
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              RECOMMENDED xx

              Bea is the ex-wife of Jimmy. They have three lovely girls together and an amicable separation. Over time Bea realises that although she was the one to break the relationship up, she made a mistake and wants Jimmy back. Only trouble is, he has finally got over Bea and has a new girlfriend. One he loves and who adores him.

              Breaking the news to Bea and the girls starts a tricky and new episode in everyone's lives. Especially for Tessa, the new woman in Jimmy's life and the new stepmother to the girls.

              This book made me think it was a chick lit story that would be easy going and romancey as well as funny. I wanted something simple to balance up the horror stories I had been reading. I did get what I expected but I also got a serious story with some serious themes running through, from alcoholism to teenage rebellion.

              I was particularly interested in this book as well because I am a stepmum to two boys and I wanted to see if the author, Carrie Adams, had managed to describe many of the feelings and fears I experienced as a stepmum into this book. I was happy to read that a lot of what Tessa went through was true to form, especially the way the children of varying ages reacted differently to a new person in their dad's life.

              I liked the writing style and found it easy to relate to all the characters. They were true to life and nothing was very over the top. It was funny in places and quite desperate in others giving a nice balance of something more than simple chick lit, but less hardcore than a thriller or horror.

              Nice and simple - enjoyable read.

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                10.09.2008 19:09
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                A novel that looks at life from the side of the mother AND the stepmother.

                I'm always on the look out for a good book but tend to find I loose interest in most of them before I even reach the halfway point. I don't really like the chick lit type books that are totally predictable and always end happily with the girl chasing the guy for the most part of the story and then ending up together. There's just no substance to many of them and I feel like once you've read one you've read them all. On a recent visit to my local library I selected five books in total, one of which I got board of after just three pages and I only ended up finishing two of them. There was however one which really stood out...

                "The Stepmother" by Carrie Adams isn't normally the type of book I'd go for judging by the baby pink cover and the glossy writing on it. This to me normally signals another unoriginal chick lit type book which I could read in my sleep. However I decided to give it a go and found myself hooked after the first chapter! Carrie Adams has quite an unusual background in that she used to be a top flyer in the world of oil, however she's recently produced two books and now lives in London with her husband. She's the author of the 2006 released novel "The Godmother" and also "The Stepmother" which was released in 2008.

                The Plot

                "The Stepmother" is a tale of two halves; one of those by the mother of three children and one of those by the future stepmother of the same three children. First we meet Bea who is the mother of one teenager and two younger children and learn of her break up from her husband Jimmy. After a couple of chapters we are introduced to Tessa who is the new love of James (aka Jimmy) and the future stepmother.

                The story is told by the two characters from their various viewpoints and follows them both from James introducing Tessa to the girls and Bea to their actual engagement party and beyond. During this time we learn of the trials and tribulations faced by both women - Bea's worry that Tessa will replace her as the main mother figure in her beloved girl's lives and Tessa's worry that she'll never live up to superwoman Bea.

                The tale encompasses a huge amount of events that are both depicted from the viewpoint of the two women, and very often there are striking similarities. The events include Tessa trying to bribe the children to like her, Tessa's father dying and Amber (the eldest daughter) starting her periods. It's interesting to view the events from both sides and to see the conflicting emotions, each women jealous of the other one throughout.

                The Characters

                As the tale is told from the viewpoint of the two different women I thought it would be worthwhile to give you a small insight into them. Prior to her children Bea had a very successful career but gave it all up to devote her life to Jimmy and her girls. She's a truly devoted mother who is clearly battling fears of insecurity and insufficiency throughout the tale. She worries that her girls will prefer Tessa to her and also worries about her new found love for her ex husband and her desire to win him back.

                She's a truly likeable character and one that any woman who has faced such a situation would be able to relate to. During the story she has a somewhat mid life crisis and turns to drink which didn't surprise me in the slightest, the revelations she makes throughout the book gave me a growing sense of sympathy for her. She's a truly remarkable character by the end of the story and has come through such a journey from where the book started, it's impossible not to like her and not to will her on through the tale.

                Tessa King is a successful lawyer for a record company and seems to be everything that Bea isn't on the surface. She's reached this point in her life without any contact with children, except for a few godchildren, and has been largely independent. She finds it hard to accept James's commitment to his children and even feels envious of his eldest daughter Amber. In a similar sense to Bea, she worries that the children will never accept her how she is and that she will never manage to bond with them.

                Although I did think I wouldn't like her after the story opened with Bea talking I found it impossible not to like her. She told her side of the tale in a really honest manner and the insecurities she felt would never have crossed my mind normally. She felt genuine concern and upset that the children would never accept her and she tries really hard throughout the novel to gain their acceptance. No matter how much I tried to hate it I found I was almost willing for her to win James by the end of the novel too!

                My Opinion

                I absolutely adored this novel and couldn't put it down; by the end I was so desperate to know which character won the man that I read the last eight chapters in one go! I really didn't think I was going to enjoy this novel but it was actually one of the best ones I've read this year. The author wrote with such compassion and honesty for the characters that it was hard not to become entrapped in what she was saying; I found them to both be so likeable that I was rooting for them both at the same time.

                I prefer books that are set over a longer period of time rather than a week or so as I feel you don't really see any character development. From what I could tell this book was set over about six to eight months, maybe a year, and I felt that the characters really developed and progressed. The two main characters as well as some of the other characters went through significant journeys and I feel by sharing these with them the reader had the chance to really bond with the characters, which I certainly did I think.

                As I've already mentioned I found it impossible not to like both characters, obviously one automatically presumes that the stepmother will be evil trying to steal the children away from the mother but this book gave a very refreshing and probably quite accurate description of what really goes on. The feelings and thoughts that Tessa had actually evoked a whole new realisation that very often it's not only the mother that worries about being replaced, the new woman never feels good enough either.

                It touched on a number of quite controversial matters such as mother father custody issues and the issue of dangerous levels of drinking. What it did give me was an insight into some mothers that do drink, in this novel it was clear that Bea was really struggling with so much in her life, not to mention her growing anorexia and bulimia problem, but it also showed me that sometimes people can't help turning to drink even when they knows it's wrong and is upsetting harmless people around them.

                What I also liked was that this book featured an epilogue so it gave the reader a chance to see things in the future after the main ending of the novel. Although in the last chapter it's quite clear what's going to happen I'm always left with a sense of wonder as to whether or not it really did happen. This book comes around full circle; it starts and ends at the children's school concert which I thought was quite a nice touch really. It left me to sleep soundly, knowing that the ending had continued and come true.

                If you enjoy a bit of chick lit but prefer something with a bit more grit and a bit more substance to it then I'd suggest you check out this author. I really enjoyed this novel and found that I read it within about half a week, once you get to certain points you'll find that you've simply got to read on in order to find out what happens. It's one of those rare novels that actually managed to bring a tear to my eye as well towards the end.

                After doing some research I've discovered that "The Godmother" actually involves Tessa King and her life as she meets her new man James, so it actually precedes the story that occurs in this book and gives it an introduction. Therefore my advice would be to try and read this one first as it's clear that "The Stepmother" is meant to follow on from this one. However it's certainly not going to stop me from going out and getting hold of "The Godmother," if it's only half as good as this one it'll still be a fantastic read!

                Thanks for reading.

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